CMS Head Marilyn Tavenner Stepping Down

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be leaving the agency at the end of February, according to news reports Friday morning. Obama administration officials told the Huffington Post that an official announcement will be made today, and that Andrew Slavitt, the current principal deputy administrator at CMS, will assume the acting administrator role until the US Senate confirms a replacement.

While most well-known for her handling of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, during her tenure at CMS Tavenner led the agency through its management of ICD-10/CM-PCS implementation efforts, for which it has been a strong proponent.

Tavenner also has overseen the awarding of incentive payments under the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program, and has helped to oversee CMS’ healthcare reform initiatives such as accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical homes, value-based purchasing, and other reimbursement reforms.

Tavenner took over CMS after her predecessor, Donald Berwick, stepped down from the top spot due to his status as a recess appointment and his inability to get Senate confirmation during the early days of the Affordable Care Act. Tavenner joined the administration in February 2010, just a few weeks before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, as a Medicare senior official. She was confirmed by the Senate as the new head of CMS in May 2013.

Prior to joining CMS, Tavenner was a registered nurse and an executive with HCA.

HIM professionals will be closely monitoring the appointment of the next head of CMS, particularly as the healthcare industry nears the October 1, 2015 ICD-10-CM/PCS implementation deadline. Under Tavenner, CMS has been supportive of enacting the new code set this year and has started end-to-end testing with providers.

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