This morning, in an e-mail to her staff, Marilyn Tavenner announced her resignation as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), effective at the end of February 2015. Administrator Tavenner, who was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 91-7 in May 2013 served as Acting Administrator for several years before her permanent appointment.
In a separate e-mail also sent this morning, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell announced that Andrew Slavitt, Principal Deputy Administrator will serve as the Acting Administrator once Administrator Tavenner leaves CMS in February.
AOPA’s Take on this development is that while this resignation is certainly a significant event, it is not expected to bring fundamental change to CMS or how it operates in the near future. The tenure of Administrator Tavenner has been dominated by the worst period of excessive regulation of Medicare and Medicaid providers, including the implementation of over aggressive audit practices against O&P providers by both the DME MACs and Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs). In addition, the problems surrounding the initial roll out of the healthcare.gov website resulted in an immediate shift in CMS’ focus to address and correct these problems which were highly visible to the public. This shift made it virtually impossible to address the need for fundamental change in other areas such as audit reform and fair treatment of O&P providers. While Administrator Tavenner was always willing to listen to AOPA, she often was unable to deliver on specific commitments she made, especially those regarding the long awaited implementation of the qualified provider requirements outlined in section 427 of the Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000 (BIPA). AOPA will make every effort to engage Acting Administrator Slavitt to continue this dialogue. Recognizing the complexity and sheer size of a government agency as large as CMS however, it is unlikely that a significant shift in CMS policies or actions will occur as a result of Administrator Tavenner’s resignation.
High level resignations are not uncommon during the latter stages of a President’s second term so it cannot be said that Administrator Tavenner’s announcement this morning is a surprise; rather it is a development that will cause AOPA to adjust its communication strategy with CMS to make sure that issues imprtant to O&P remain in the discussion.
AOPA’s Take………Where you go when you need to know!