Marilyn Tavenner Officially Nominated to Head CMS

Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was nominated to officially lead the agency that she’s headed for more than a year.

President Barack Obama last week sent Tavenner’s nomination to the Senate. She had headed CMS since late 2011 after Donald Berwick resigned. She had served as Berwick’s deputy and also had served as the state Health and Human Services Secretary under former Gov. Tim Kaine.

As head of the agency, Tavenner will serve as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the launch of the health care exchange system and Medicaid expansion effort gets underway. Medicaid expansion has been controversial as several Republican governors had at first said they would not allow the program to grow in their respective states. But as the White House as promised to pick up a large share of the costs over the next few years, that resistance has been eroding.

Tavenner’s confirmation may be an uphill climb as the politics surrounding the ACA continues. A nominee to the position has not been confirmed by the Senate in seven years.

While Berwick, who assumed the post via recess appointment in 2010, was often controversial for being an outspoken proponent of health-care reform, Tavenner enjoys wide support, even earning the endorsement of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Governing reports. Groups such as the National Association of Public Hospitals and the Blue Cross/Blue Shield praised her nomination.