By Richard Asinof
WASHINGTON – Marilyn Tavenner, the principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will be nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Dr. Donald M. Berwick, who resigned as of Dec. 2. Tavenner will serve as administrator on an acting basis during the confirmation process.
Berwick, a Harvard-educated pediatrician, was appointed to the job in July 2010 while Congress was in recess. His term was set to expire Dec. 31; earlier this year, 42 Republican senators pledged to block his confirmation, ending any chance of him serving beyond 2011.
A nurse, Tavenner has played a key role in overseeing Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“The only way to stabilize costs without cutting benefits or provider fees is to improve care to those with the highest health care costs,” said Tavenner, in recent remarks to the National Association of Medicaid Directors.
Tavenner opposes Republican efforts to turn Medicaid into a block grant that would limit the amount of federal funding states can receive for the program. “That approach would simply dump the problem on states and force them to dump patients, benefits or make provider cuts or all the above,” she said.