Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner received Senate confirmation yesterday to serve as permanent administrator of the federal agency. The landslide 91 to 7 vote, after she has served over two years as acting administrator following her predecessor Donald Berwick, M.D.’s resignation, makes Tavenner the first CMS administrator to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in more than nine years.
The agency’s responsibilities are increasing with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), one of the seven dissenting voters, explained his opposition by saying, “By giving the CMS administrator the primary role in implementing Obamacare – with the responsibility for issuing and enforcing thousands of pages of new regulations, rules, and requirements – the Obama administration has changed the central focus of this job.” While that criticism seems to have more to do with the position itself than the person nominated to fill it, the other six senators who voted against confirmation were all Republicans as well, though most GOP members of the Senate did vote in favor of confirmation, including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who told The New York Times that, “So far, she has shown a willingness to work with members of both parties, which is a welcome development, particularly under this administration.” Hatch emphasized how vital it is “that an agency as vital as CMS be headed by someone with strong ethics and integrity.”
The confirmation of the former nurse and state health official received widespread praise. American Medical Association President Jeremy Lazarus, MD, stated that the organization “is very pleased the Senate has confirmed Marilyn Tavenner as administrator of CMS… We look forward to continuing to work with the administrator to strengthen the Medicare system to improve health outcomes for patients and the practice environment for physicians.” Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Vice President of Government Relations Tom Leary applauded the Senate’s decision to confirm Tavenner and said, “I stand by our letter to the Committee that we submitted when she was nominated in February.” The referenced letter noted that “the progress that CMS and the nation have made on the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program is due in large part to Ms. Tavenner’s leadership.” American Hospital Association President Rich Umberstock noted, “Marilyn’s varied and rich background as a nurse, health care executive, and government official at both the state and national levels gives her a unique perspective and demonstrates that she is a very capable leader of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.” Umberstock feels that Tavenner’s history has prepared her to “reduce red tape and regulatory burden to ensure that more providers’ time and resources are spent on caring for patients.”
An EHR like Lytec MD or Medisoft Clinical is the first requirement for qualifying for payments under the Medicare or Medicaid incentive programs from CMS. Microwize Technology’s healthcare technology consultants can give you more information about the process.