Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus told POLITICO that it’s “virtually impossible” to see how CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner could get 60 votes in the Senate, and therefore he doesn’t have plans for a confirmation hearing.
Republicans haven’t found anything as controversial in Tavenner’s background as they did in former Administrator Don Berwick’s (the one comment he made praising the UK’s National Health Service, which hysterical Republicans equated to support for rationing healthcare — a distortion to rival Sarah Palin’s “death panels”), but many did not think she had a shot at getting confirmed given the politics of health care reform implementation. They can’t very well vote for the person who’s expected to implement the ACA.
The stalemate over CMS appointees contrasts with progress made on some other appointments: the Senate confirmed two nominees to the Federal Reserve board last week. It’s even more baffling given several GOP members’ support of Tavenner, especially from her home state of Virginia. You’ll recall Tavenner was appointed weeks before Berwick’s controversial recess appointment expired last year. She wasn’t a recess appointment, so there’s no time limit on her tenure per se, but “Acting Administrator” does diminish the position.
In this environment you’d have to be some kind of self-hater to want the job.