Tavenner leaving administrator post at CMS

January 16, 2015

Has been key player in implementing Affordable Care Act

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), will leave that position at the end of February, according to media reports.

Tavenner’s successor will be CMS Deputy Principal Administrator Andrew Slavitt, who will hold the title of acting administrator until the U.S. Senate confirms him or someone else in the position.

Marilyn TavennerSince being named to head CMS early in 2010, Tavenner has overseen the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the biggest overhaul to the nation’s healthcare system since the enactment of the Medicare and Medicaid programs a generation earlier. Tavenner and her boss, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius, were widely blamed for the disastrous 2013 rollout of the Healthcare.gov website on which consumers could shop for healthcare coverage and determine their eligibility for receiving subsidies for premiums.

Tavenner apologized for the website’s initial poor performance during a hearing before a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in October, 2014.

In a letter to HHS employees Sylvia Matthews Burwell, the current secretary wrote, “It goes without saying that Marilyn will be remembered for her leadership in opening the Health Insurance Marketplace….It's a measure of her tenacity and dedication that after the tough initial rollout of HealthCare.gov, she helped right the ship, bringing aboard a systems integrator and overseeing an overhaul of the website.

“She is a big part of the reason why, as of this past spring, roughly 10 million Americans had gained health coverage since last year – the largest increase in four decades.” 

Tavenner joined CMS as deputy principal administrator. Prior to that, she had been secretary of health and human resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Before that she worked in a variety of positions for the Hospital Corporation of America, culminating with that of group president of outpatient services.

With an annual budget of $820 billion and more than 4,000 employees, CMS administers the Medicare program and provides funding and guidance for states in administering the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs.