Medi­care chief to re­sign after Oba­macare stum­bles

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Mar­i­lyn Taven­ner, the U.S. of­fi­cial who di­rected the stum­bling roll­out of Oba­macare as well as its re­cov­ery in re­cent months, will re­sign as head of the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices.

Taven­ner said in an e-mail to staff that she'll step down at the end of next month. She didn't give her rea­sons for leav­ing. Andy Slavitt, a for­mer Unit­edHealth Group Inc. ex­ec­u­tive who is the agency's sec­ond high­est-rank­ing of­fi­cial, will move into Taven­ner's job on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Sylvia Mathews Bur­well said in a sep­a­rate e-mail to staff.

Taven­ner took over CMS in 2011, the year after Pres­i­dent Barack Obama signed the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. Her de­par­ture comes after some of the worst mis­steps in the agency's re­cent his­tory, as im­ple­men­ta­tion of the health­care law proved vex­ing for Taven­ner and her staff.

"We had many ad­di­tional chal­lenges put be­fore us to look at ways to im­prove qual­ity, re­duce costs, elim­i­nate fraud, in­crease trans­parency, and pro­vide ac­cess to mil­lions more of our fel­low Americans," Taven­ner said in her e-mail. "With those changes came a whole new set of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and a spot­light that brightly shown on all of us."

Along with the Af­ford­able Care Act, CMS also runs Medi­care, the health pro­gram for the el­derly and dis­abled, and Med­i­caid, for low­in­come peo­ple.

After Repub­li­cans took over the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2011, they de­nied the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion's re­quests for ad­di­tional money to fi­nance the health law's en­act­ment. Fed­eral of­fi­cials and White House al­lies have blamed the gov­ern­ment's strug­gles with the law, in part, on a short­age of fund­ing.

Taven­ner "worked tire­lessly" at a time when her job had been made "more dif­fi­cult, com­plex and politi­cized than ever be­fore," Se­na­tor Ron Wy­den of Ore­gon, the se­nior Demo­crat on the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment.

As head of the agency, Taven­ner was ar­guably the per­son most re­spon­si­ble for con­struc­tion of health­care.gov, the fed­eral health in­surance web­site that col­lapsed when it opened for business in Oc­to­ber 2013. A Unit­edHealth Group unit -- then run by Slavitt -- was hired to lead re­pairs.

In Novem­ber of last year, Taven­ner also ac­knowl­edged that her agency had made a mis­take in its cal­cu­la­tion of the num­ber of peo­ple en­rolled un­der Oba­macare for 2014. About 393,000 in­di­vid­u­als with both health and den­tal cov­er­age were "in­ad­ver­tently counted twice," she said in a let­ter to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dar­rell Issa, a Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can whose com­mit­tee dis­cov­ered the er­ror.

"Taven­ner had to go," Issa said in a state­ment to­day. "She presided over HHS as it de­cep­tively padded the Oba­macare en­roll­ment num­bers."

After Repub­li­cans took over the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2011, they de­nied the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion's re­quests for ad­di­tional money to fi­nance the health law's en­act­ment. Fed­eral of­fi­cials and White House al­lies have blamed the gov­ern­ment's strug­gles with the law, in part, on a short­age of fund­ing.

Taven­ner "worked tire­lessly" at a time when her job had been made "more dif­fi­cult, com­plex and politi­cized than ever be­fore," Se­na­tor Ron Wy­den of Ore­gon, the se­nior Demo­crat on the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment.

As head of the agency, Taven­ner was ar­guably the per­son most re­spon­si­ble for con­struc­tion of health­care.gov, the fed­eral health in­surance web­site that col­lapsed when it opened for business in Oc­to­ber 2013. A Unit­edHealth Group unit -- then run by Slavitt -- was hired to lead re­pairs.

In Novem­ber of last year, Taven­ner also ac­knowl­edged that her agency had made a mis­take in its cal­cu­la­tion of the num­ber of peo­ple en­rolled un­der Oba­macare for 2014. About 393,000 in­di­vid­u­als with both health and den­tal cov­er­age were "in­ad­ver­tently counted twice," she said in a let­ter to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dar­rell Issa, a Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can whose com­mit­tee dis­cov­ered the er­ror.

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