The CMS' second-in-command, Marilyn Tavenner, will take the helm at the agency Dec. 2 when Dr. Donald Berwick resigns his post.
Late News: Marilyn Tavenner to replace Berwick as head of CMS
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.”
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