Harkin To Lift Hold on Tavenner’s Nomination as CMS Administrator
In remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced that he is lifting the hold he placed on Marilyn Tavenner's nomination as CMS administrator, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
Last month, Harkin said he would indefinitely delay a Senate vote on Tavenner's nomination because of a dispute with the Obama administration over Affordable Care Act funding.
Harkin -- during a Senate hearing early in April -- expressed concern with the administration's decision to use money allocated for the ACA's Prevention and Public Health in fiscal year 2013 to pay for an insurance exchange navigators program (Carey, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 5/7).
According to Modern Healthcare, at issue is about $332 million that the White House intends to use from the fund for outreach and education about the exchanges (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 5/7).
Harkin: 'I Do Not Want To Interfere' With CMS' Work on ACA
In his latest remarks, Harkin said the White House has made "clear that it will not reverse course with regard to its raid on the prevention fund." However, "I do not want to interfere with the important work of [CMS]," he added.
Harkin said he believes Tavenner "is strongly qualified to be the next CMS administrator and that it is urgent to have an effective leader at the helm of CMS as we enter a critical stage in implementing the [ACA]" (Modern Healthcare, 5/7).
Harkin also noted that he provided a legal analysis to the administration that concluded that money from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation -- which also was established under the ACA -- could be used instead to fund the outreach program for the exchanges. "I gave them a suggestion on another source of funding ... [but] I've never received a response," he said (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/7).
Harkin said he hopes the administration will develop a strategy to replenish the $332 million and make "some ironclad agreements that they're not going to raid the fund again" in FY 2014.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is unable to provide a timeline for a floor vote on Tavenner's nomination ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 5/7).
According to The Hill's "Healthwatch," the Senate is expected to confirm Tavenner after she "sailed" through her confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee after receiving a strong endorsement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 5/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.