Senate Democrats never called a hearing to confirm Dr. Donald Berwick as CMS administrator because they feared it would give Republicans a venue for toxic attacks on the healthcare reform law.
It was nothing of the sort last week for acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, who assumed leadership of the agency when Berwick resigned in 2011. She appears on track to be the first confirmed leader of the agency since 2006.
Much of the partisan rancor that has dominated healthcare discussions in Congress since it began considering the ACA in 2009 died away during Tavenner's appearance before the Senate Finance Committee. Instead, most members of both parties lavished the acting administrator with praise for the experience she has brought to running an agency that oversees $820 billion in annual healthcare spending.