Despite that, Tavenner has drawn broad bipartisan support for her efforts at the agency and little of the political backlash that kept Democrats from offering her predecessor, Dr. Donald Berwick, a confirmation hearing.
The committee's vote was the latest indication that Republicans view Tavenner, a former hospital administrator, separately from their ongoing opposition to the 2010 healthcare overhaul.
“Marilyn Tavenner has a lot of experience, and she has proven herself to be a very valuable person and we need a very valuable person,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), shortly before the committee's vote.
Senate leadership has yet to establish a timeframe for the full Senate to consider her nomination.
Baucus also confirmed earlier reports that he is retiring and will not seek re-election.
“You guys are really good and get wind of things awfully quickly,” Baucus told reporters in a Senate hallway. But Baucus declined to offer any comments or answer questions about his departure from Congress.
Hatch told reporters he was surprised by Baucus' retirement but was unsure what impact it would have on health policy. He called Baucus' authorship of much of the healthcare law a “signal achievement.”
“He rammed it through committee; it was a very difficult thing to do,” Hatch said. “But he did what they asked him to do—and when I say 'they,' I mean Democrats.”
Provider groups praised Tavenner and urged quick approval by the full chamber.
“We deeply appreciate the Senate Finance Committee's leadership and look forward to swift approval of her nomination by the full Senate,” Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, said in a written statement.
Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association, expressed similar support.
“CMS has been led by acting administrators for many years, and during this important time for the Medicare and Medicaid programs it is important to have a strong, well-qualified leader who is able to build consensus,” Lazarus said in a written statement. “Marilyn Tavenner has shown that she is the right person for the job.”
Among Baucus' priorities for the remainder of his last term in office is "implementing and expanding affordable healthcare for more Americans," according to a written statement issued by his office.