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Tavenner Gains Early Support

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, November 29, 2011

Scully, who headed the agency from 2001 to 2004, calls himself Marilyn Tavenner's biggest fan. He's known her for 20 years; they met when she was working for HCA in Virginia. He says she brings an effective management style and big picture understanding to the job. "She has actually run healthcare. She ran Virginia's Medicaid program. She knows pharmacy, physicians, outpatient care ­-- everything about healthcare."

Scully, whose own nomination to head CMS was approved by a unanimous vote of the Senate, said he expects Tavenner will also to win confirmation despite the opposition faced by Berwick. "The time is right. Berwick was nominated right after the healthcare reform vote but things have calmed down now."

Surprisingly silent on either Berwick's departure or Tavenner's nomination is Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and will play a key role in the hearing process. Efforts to get a comment from the senator were unsuccessful.

On the other side of the aisle, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the ranking Republican member of the Finance Committee, quickly issued this statement: "I'm glad the White House opted against another end run around the Senate and instead has put forward a CMS nominee that the Senate must thoroughly examine. Any nominee to a federal agency with this much power and authority over the lives of millions of Americans must be carefully scrutinized. Republicans on the Finance Committee look forward to examining her record and gaining an understanding of her views of Medicare, Medicaid and the President's health law."

Hatch opposed the Affordable Care Act and led the opposition to Berwick. Some political pundits have suggested that Republicans will welcome the Tavenner hearing as an opportunity to reopen the debate on healthcare reform.

Here's what some leading healthcare groups have to say about Marilyn Tavenner's nomination for administrator of CMS:

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