CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner resigns

January 18, 2015

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, a life-long public health advocate tapped to lead the $820 billion federal agency, will step down from her role at the end of February.

The Centers for Medicare and  Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will step down from her role at the end of February.

Tavenner, a life-long public health advocate, managed the $820 billion federal agency, which ensures healthcare coverage for 100 million Americans, with 10 regional offices and more than 4,000 employees nationwide.

With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March of 2010, Tavenner also managed CMS as it implements the insurance reforms and affordable insurance exchanges included in the health reform law.

“[Marilyn] Tavenner had become lightening rod for the problems of the ACA and has become the latest official to depart in the ongoing reorganization of the CMS,” said John Santilli partner, Access Market Intelligence, in Trumbull, Conn. “[She] never recovered from the dreadful rollout of Healthcare.gov,” Santilli says.

“By her own admission, Tavenner was sometimes overwhelmed by the politics of the position, and did not participate in the largest issues and decisions of the Obama administration, such as the delay of a requirement for larger employers to offer health coverage to employees.”

According to Santilli, health insurers may not necessarily be pleased to see Tavenner depart, as she did oversee the enrollment of millions of Americans to receive insurance over the last year. “Many of the nation’s leading insurers such as WellPoint [Anthem], Aetna, UnitedHealth Group and Humana, have experienced increasing enrollment of new privately insured members and Medicaid enrollees thanks to the ACA,” Santilli observes.

Principal deputy administrator Andy Slavitt, who helped fix healthcare.gov, will become acting administrator and may be best positioned to take over on permanent basis, according to Santilli.