WASHINGTON Feb 7 President Barack Obama on
Thursday renominated one of his top healthcare advisers to lead
the federal agency responsible for overseeing Medicare, Medicaid
and the implementation of his healthcare reform law.
If confirmed by the Senate, Marilyn Tavenner would become
the first official head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2006. She currently leads the same
agency as acting administrator.
As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
CMS runs the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs that
serve about 100 million elderly, disabled and low-income people
at a cost estimated at $885 billion for this year. Both programs
are at the center of a looming debate in Congress over how to
reduce the federal deficit.
If confirmed as agency chief, Tavenner would also exercise
official authority over the biggest expansion of healthcare
coverage in more than a generation under Obama's Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is expected to extend
coverage to 38 million people over the next 10 years.
CMS has been a target of Republican opposition to Obama's
healthcare policies since early in his presidency.
Tavenner, a nurse and former hospital executive, became
acting administrator in late 2011 and was nominated to lead the
agency. But the Senate never acted on her nomination.
Her predecessor, healthcare reform expert Donald Berwick,
had assumed the job through a temporary appointment in July 2010
but left after less than 18 months when Senate Republicans made
it clear that they would not allow his nomination.
Tavenner has won praise from some Republicans, including
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and enjoys strong support
among healthcare industry groups and consumer advocates.