Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Who Is Marilyn Tavenner?

Monday, December 05, 2011
Marilyn Tavenner

President Barack Obama has turned to a former health care executive to serve as the next Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) the federal body responsible for administering the Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The previous director, Donald Berwick, had to resign because of stiff opposition from Senate Republicans, who never allowed his nomination to come to a vote. The new Director, Marilyn Tavenner, is a nurse who worked her way through the health care ranks.

Born May 31, 1951, in Martinsville, Virginia, Tavenner studied Nursing at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, and earned both her B.S. in Nursing (1972) and a Masters in Health Administration (1989) from Virginia Commonwealth University. She started her career in 1972 as a staff nurse, joining the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in 1981 as a Nursing Supervisor at Johnston-Willis Hospital (later renamed Chippenham Johnston-Willis Hospital) in Richmond, Virginia. After serving in a number of supervisory positions, Tavenner was named CEO of the hospital in April 1993. From February 1996 to January 2001, she was President of HCA’s Richmond Division. She was made President of HCA’s Central Atlantic Division in February 2001, with operational responsibility for the division’s 18 hospitals in Virginia, West Virginia and New Hampshire. In January 2004, Tavenner was promoted to President of HCA’s Outpatient Services Group, where she was responsible for freestanding outpatient facilities, including ambulatory surgery and diagnostic centers.
Tavenner left the private sector for public service in January 2006, when Virginia Governor Tim Kaine appointed her Secretary of Health and Human Resources. In that position, she oversaw 12 agencies, employing more than 18,000 people, including the Departments of Health, Mental Health, Social Services, Health Professions and Medical Assistance Services. She left Virginia government for federal service in February 2010, when she was appointed Principal Deputy Administrator of CMS.
Tavenner has served on the Boards of several organizations, including the American Hospital Association, Meals on Wheels Association of America, United Way, The Greater Richmond Partnership, which attracts business to the city and its surrounding counties, and the YMCA. She also served as president of both the Virginia Hospital Association and the Chesterfield Business Council.
Tavenner is married to Robert Tavenner, who is a Virginia State Police Captain. They have three children.
Tavenner has contributed more than $27,000 to political campaigns and causes since 1998, much of it to health care-related political action committees (PACs), including $9,500 to the Federation of American Hospitals between 1998 and 2005, $2,000 to the American Hospital Association in 2004, and $1,000 to the HCA Healthcare PAC in 1998 and 1999. She also contributed $2,025 to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) in the 2003-2004 election cycle, $1,000 to George W. Bush in 2003, and $1,000 to the Republican-affiliated Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism in 2005. As she left the private sector, however, Tavenner shifted her contributions from industry-owned PACs to Democratic Party candidates and causes. Thus, in 2006 she contributed $500 to the Democratic Party of Virginia and $1,000 to the Democratic-leaning Forward Together PAC. She also contributed $6,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia in 2007 and 2008, $1,000 to Rep. Jim Moran (D-Virginia) in 2007, $1,750 to Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) in 2007 and 2008, $250 to Barack Obama in 2011, and $250 to former Governor Tim Kaine, who is running for the Senate from Virginia in 2012.
-Matt Bewig
Who is New CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner? (by Karen M. Cheung, Fierce HealthCare)

Tavenner To Replace Berwick As Medicare Chief (by Mary Agnes Carey and Phil Galewitz, NPR)


Donald Pauli 2 years ago
I turned 65 in September and was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in December. I am covered by Medicare and have a supplement. The best choice for me was High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)which is approved by the FDA but NOT Covered by Medicare. I am trying to refinance my house and may have to sell it to pay for this treatment. HIFU is the least invasive and least expensive treatment for Prostate Cancer. Why doesn't Medicare cover this procedure? I need you help. I have set up a Go Fund Me account to help cover this expense. This is a shameful problem that needs to be addressed by you. Please acknowledge me.
Esther Ahern 2 years ago
I am a 79 year old woman in sole charge of an 84 year old man with Alzheimers. I have been denied any benefits because our income is $600 a month over the limit to qualify for nursing home care and any other benefits. My husband is a veteran and even that was denied. I tried to get a walker and was told the need had to be cardiac, arthritic or neurological. Most 84 year olds cd benefit from a walker. why make it so hard? I am totally disgusted and sorry to be a hard working citizen of this country. I'm just not poor enough or rich enough so I struggle at the age of 79 taking care of a man who cannot even feed himself.

Leave a comment