Tavenner, Care Innovation Summit, and Senate Hearings

Confirmation of Acting CMS Administrator Tavenner Uncertain

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, the ONC, West Wireless Health Institute, and Health Affairs co-hosted last week’s Care Innovation Summit. This first of its kind summit was conceived to bring together and begin a dialogue with the marketplace on transforming healthcare delivery. The featured speakers for the day included the CEO of West Wireless Health Institute Donald Casey, the Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs Susan Dentzer, the Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, and the CTO of HHS Todd Park to name a few. The event brought in more than a thousand attendees and even more than that virtually.

Marilyn Tavenner the current acting administrator for CMS took the podium to continue her predecessor Berwick’s “triple aim” goals of better individual health care, better population health, and reduction of per capita costs. She expressed the urgency of everyone’s job to get things done in the 24 months before most of the Affordable Care Act kicks in. And she states, “that is where the Innovation Center becomes so important.” CMS is depending on the new Innovation Center to utilize its public and private partnerships and transform ideas into action. They have already launched delivery system initiatives which are testing new models.

While Tavenner is forging on as acting CMS Administrator it is still uncertain if she will truly get the job. For an agency that controls over 20% of the national budget you might think it would be a priority to have its head confirmed and in place. Not so as this position has been like temporary housing for the past few years. And it is beginning to look like it won’t change. President Obama nominated Tavenner after Berwick resigned when his recess appointment came to an end last December. Congress is returning and facing pressure to resolve the Medicare physician payment formula or providers will soon find their reimbursements cut. And Travenner’s yet to be scheduled confirmation hearing might be right in the middle of all of that. Obama could have done a repeat for the CMS position this last recess but made bigger news with the appointment of someone that had no chance of confirmation, Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So will that ultimately be the downfall of Tavenner? Will there be retaliation over Cordray’s appointment on Tavenner’s confirmation? Only time will tell.