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 Tavenner Confirmed First CMS Director In Nearly A Decade

​The Senate has confirmed Marilyn Tavenner as the new director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Tavenner had been serving as acting director. She’s the first “official” director of the agency in nearly seven years.

Her appointment came as a relief to long term care advocates, not only because Tavenner is widely respected by providers, but because it offers the chance of shelter in a seismic time for health care.

American Health Care Association President and Chief Executive Officer Gov. Mark Parkinson hailed Tavenner’s confirmation late Wednesday.

“AHCA is pleased to see the Senate confirm the first CMS administrator in nearly seven years,” he said in a news release. “With nearly 80 percent of individuals relying on Medicare or Medicaid for their skilled nursing care, having a steady, experienced leader such as Marilyn Tavenner will be beneficial for patients and providers alike. AHCA looks forward to collaborating with Ms. Tavenner and the entire agency as we find innovative solutions to providing quality care.”

Her nomination passed, 91 to 7. She is officially in charge of an $800 billion per year agency that insures more than 100 million people. It’s a vital agency in President Obama’s continuing health care reforms.

There had been little in-principle objection to Tavenner, a career nurse who spent more than two decades at Hospital Corp. of America. But Obama’s health care package remains the most unpopular legislation in his presidency, and some Republicans—especially those running for re-election—saw her nomination as a chance get a little back from the administration.

Republicans have also been raising pointed questions about Obama’s team raising money for private, nonprofit groups that publicly defended Obamacare.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) joined six other Republicans—Idaho Sens. Michael Crapo and Jim Risch, Texas’ Ted Cruz, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Utah’s Mike Lee, and Kentucky’s Rand Paul in voting against Tavenner.

Tavenner was nominated to replace former acting Director Donald Berwick, whose nomination was blocked in the Senate and was briefly put in the job via a recess appointment. The last CMS director to have been confirmed by the Senate was Mark McClellan, who left in October 2006.

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