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Tavenner Grilled on Healthcare Reform Status

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 5, 2013

House committee members spar among themselves, but CMS chief Marilyn Tavenner manages to stay mostly above the fray as she takes questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A composed Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, faced the full House Energy & Commerce Committee during a two-hour session last Thursday that was billed as an opportunity for the members to take the pulse of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The tone was often conciliatory, but frequently combative as committee members quizzed the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on a wide range of topics related to healthcare reform, including the readiness of health insurance marketplaces, the process for income verification and self-attestation, premium costs, and even Tavenner's willingness to enroll in an exchange health plan herself. [She said she would be willing.]

At times Tavenner's presence seemed almost incidental as committee members sparred among themselves along party lines.

After Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) spoke about the support for healthcare reform in his district, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) remarked that he must "live in a parallel universe" from Waxman. "When I am out in my district I don't have anyone coming to me saying they can't wait for the Affordable Care Act to be implemented or for this great day when they can get all these benefits. I hear just the opposite."

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