Marilyn Tavenner to replace Berwick as head of CMS
The CMS’ second-in-command, Marilyn Tavenner, will take the helm at the agency Dec. 2 when Dr. Donald Berwick resigns his post. Senate Republicans had pledged to block Berwick’s confirmation, leading many to urge President Barack Obama to select a different nominee as Berwick’s recess appointment neared its end-of-the-year deadline. Tavenner, former Virginia secretary of health and human services, will be named interim administrator until a Senate vote on her nomination, which will likely take place next year, the CMS said. Berwick, founder and former head of the Cambridge, Mass.-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, was a target of vocal opposition by Republicans who cited his past statements praising Britain’s socialized medicine system. Obama bypassed Congress and named him to the post in July 2010 using a recess appointment. Berwick was widely viewed as an engine for implementing the president’s healthcare overhaul. He spearheaded the rollout of several initiatives, including the CMS’ introduction of value-based purchasing and the Partnership for Patients, a patient-safety program. “Under Don’s leadership, CMS has undertaken innovative new work to drive better care, better health and lower costs through improvement while keeping the needs of patients and a commitment to quality at the center of all decisions,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an e-mail to staff. In a separate e-mail, Berwick asked his colleagues at the CMS to support Tavenner. “You already know, as I do, that she shares deeply our commitment to the important work of CMS especially as we launch new programs that are transforming health and our healthcare system.”
Berwick, left, resigned his post as CMS chief. Tavenner will be named interim administrator until a Senate vote.