New Head of CMS Appointed

After a year and a half stint as the head of CMS, Donald Berwick will be stepping down on December 2, 2011.  Berwick was temporarily appointed by President Obama in April of 2010, which was set to expire at the end of the year.  Berwick’s appointment was considered to be controversial and polarizing to Congress, with 42 Republican senators pledging to oppose his confirmation, preventing Berwick from serving beyond 2011.

On November 23, 2011, President Obama announced his decision to nominate Marilyn Tavenner, Berwick’s principal deputy as administrator of CMS.  Tavenner previously served as the President of Outpatient Services for the Hospital Corporation of America and was later appointed to Secretary of Virginia’s Health and Human Services.

The Hill’s healthcare blog, Healthwatch, quoted Peter Carmel, The American Medical Association (AMA) President backing Tavenner, stating, “We have worked extensively with her in her role as deputy administrator, and she has been fair, knowledgeable and open to dialogue. With all the changes and challenges facing the Medicare and Medicaid programs, CMS needs stable leadership, and Marilyn Tavenner has the skills and experience to provide it.”

A Washington Post article stated that Tavenner’s “health-care experience lies much more in management than policy” and “in contrast to Berwick, Tavenner isn’t associated with a grand vision for health reform, or a particular policy agenda for Medicare and Medicaid.”  Additionally, in an article released by WorkCompCentral  (subscription required) stakeholders made it clear that the change in leadership should have no effect on individuals engaging in regular dealings with CMS and Will Rijksen, Vice President of Public Affairs for the AIA, was also noted as being in agreement with this observation.

At the present time, the opinion of the insurance industry seems to be that there will likely be little to no immediate impact to the insurance or MSA industry as a result of Tavenner’s appointment.  The industry will remain hopeful that Tavenner is aggressive in her new role in making CMS more efficient; additionally, the MSP compliance industry will eagerly await for future enhancements to current MSP related procedures.

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