The Tavenner Two-Step

  • by: |
  • 04/10/2013
From the pages of Medical Marketing & Media ...

For Obama's head-less CMS, third time's the charm

Matthew Arnold

Marilyn Tavenner told Senators if confirmed as director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, she will “operate CMS like a business” and keep an open door policy to “listen to all the groups accountable” to the programs.

Tavenner, an ICU nurse-turned-hospital exec-turned-Virginia health secretary, is setting a very different tone from President Obama's last nominee for the post, Don Berwick, whose favorable comments about the UK's National Health Service raised industry hackles. She's before the Senate today, in hearings to make her job official at a pivotal time for the program.

While her confirmation has been on ice for more than two years, she comes to Capitol Hill with bipartisan support – Republican majority whip Eric Cantor, a fellow Virginian who has known Tavenner since her days running a hospital in her district, is a fan. She's received support from all the major industry stakeholders, which are impatient for the programs to have permanent leadership.

“At this stage in the healthcare reform conversation, it's important to have a CMS administrator who will ensure that patient care always comes first and that cost containment isn't wedded to failed foreign models of rationing,” said Peter Pitts of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. “Ms. Tavenner has demonstrated both the ability to focus on the job at hand and avoid doctrinaire political debate.”

“It's time for Congress to stop playing politics with major cabinet appointments,” said Coalition for Healthcare Communication executive director John Kamp. “The president won the election and should be given the respect to appoint his people.”

For political reasons, it's been a decade since CMS had a permanent head, and as the Washington Post notes, the senior President Bush's Medicare director Tom Scully has mused that “Mother Theresa or Gandhi couldn't even get confirmed,” so contentious have the politics of the programs become in the age of the Affordable Care Act. An earlier nomination of Tavenner went nowhere.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog