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CMS Administrator Tavenner stepping down

January 16, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) confirms that Marilyn Tavenner, administrator, is stepping down at the end of February.

Tavenner will reportedly be replaced by Andrew Slavitt, principal deputy administrator for CMS and second in command, according to The Huffington Post. Before he came to CMS, Slavitt was executive vice president at Optum, a Minnesota-based health IT vendor. 

For many, Tavenner's legacy will be tied to the troubled launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)-based website. Tavenner testified to Congress on why the website took two months to become fully functional for the 2014 open enrollment season.  

In health IT, Tavenner was champion of regulatory measures like meaningful use and ICD-10. Despite pushback from numerous industry groups, she often aimed to keep those regulatory measures moving forward. She also oversaw progress of various CMS-based ACA initiatives that impact health IT, like the  Accountable Care Organization (ACOs) programs and the mandatory Readmissions Reduction Program.

Tavenner came on board to CMS in 2010 and became acting administrator in 2011, confirmed by Congress in 2013.

 In email to all staff, Tavenner listed some of the accomplishments of the agency during her five-year experience including:  “a 17 percent reduction in patient harm nationally; which represents 50,000 lives saved, 1.3 million adverse events and infections avoided, and $12 billion in cost savings.” And the fact that 27 states and the District of Columbia have expanded their Medicaid programs on her watch.