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Senate committee approves Tavenner nomination

On April 23, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved President Barack Obama's nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Tavenner has served as the agency's acting administrator since December 2011.

Following the Finance Committee's action, Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, announced that he would block quick floor action on Tavenner over his displeasure with the Administration's shifting of money from a preventive care fund to pay for implementing insurance exchanges created by the 2010 health care reform bill. He did not say that he would block the nomination indefinitely. However, he said that he would like the administration to find other sources of funding, rather than the $332 million that he says they are taking out of the Public Health and Prevention Fund this year to fund the health care reform law's implementation.

Since the Tavenner nomination is now blocked, at least temporarily, timing for a vote on the Senate floor is uncertain. If Harkins removes his "hold" on the nomination — thereby clearing the nomination for a vote on the Senate floor — Tavenner is expected to win the same type of bipartisan support by the entire Senate that she has enjoyed throughout the committee phase of this confirmation process. If confirmed by the full Senate, Tavenner would be the first confirmed CMS Administrator since Mark McClellan, who served from 2004 to 2006 in the George W. Bush administration. Obama's last nominee for the position, Harvard University professor Don Berwick, met strong opposition from Republicans in the wake of the contentious debate over the Affordable Care Act. more


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