For Immediate Release
May 15, 2013
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Hatch Speaks on Nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to Head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

In Speech on the Senate Floor, Utah Senator Says, “I appreciate Ms. Tavenner’s willingness to serve in this difficult position. While I still have many concerns about the policies of this administration and the direction CMS is heading, I plan to vote in favor of her confirmation, because she has the ability and the potential to be a real leader.”

WASHINGTON – With the Senate set to vote on Marilyn Tavenner’s nomination to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) later today, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) spoke on the Senate floor in support of the nominee.

“Overseeing a massive bureaucracy like the one at CMS is not a job for the faint of heart.  I will be keeping a close eye on Ms. Tavenner as she takes the reins. If she is to be successful, she’ll have to realize that she can’t do it alone.  She will have to work with members of Congress from both parties.  I hope that she will do so.  Thus far, I have reason to believe that she will,” said Hatch. “However, if, under her leadership, CMS continues what has become a disappointing pattern in this administration – not responding to legitimate congressional inquiries and throwing promises of transparency by the wayside – I will use the full weight of my position as the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee to hold her fully accountable. I appreciate Ms. Tavenner’s willingness to serve in this difficult position.  While I still have many concerns about the policies of this administration and the direction CMS is heading, I plan to vote in favor of her confirmation because she has the ability and the potential to be a real leader.”

Below are Hatch’s full remarks delivered on the Senate floor this afternoon:

Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of the nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  

For a number of reasons, CMS has been without a confirmed Administrator since the fall of 2006.  
CMS is the world’s largest health insurer.  It processes over a billion Medicare and Medicaid claims a year and has a budget of nearly a trillion dollars. It also provides services to over 100 million of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens receiving Medicare and Medicaid.
   
So, clearly, this is a critical agency that needs a strong leader at the helm.

Thus far, from what I’ve seen, Ms. Tavenner has the qualifications to be that kind of leader.   
She has clinical experience from being a nurse, executive experience from serving as a hospital administrator and hands on operational experience from her time as the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the state of Virginia.  

That rare combination of skills will be essential when heading an agency as diverse as CMS. There is a reason she was voted out of the Senate Finance Committee on a voice vote and had the House Majority Leader come testify on her behalf.

Starting in 2010, she was appointed as the Deputy Administrator of CMS.  And, since November of 2011, she has served as the Acting Administrator.
 
So far, she’s shown a willingness to work with members of both parties, which is a welcome development, particularly under this administration.  At a time when the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is engaging in activities that are less than transparent and potentially illegal, it is even more important that an agency as vital as CMS be headed by someone with strong ethics and integrity.

Make no mistake, this agency’s greatest challenges lie ahead.  

One of the biggest problems facing CMS in the near future is implementation of the federal and state-based health insurance exchanges established under Obamacare.  

These exchanges are supposed to be brought online later this year, but there are numerous obstacles that need to be addressed.  By most indications, it would take a miracle for the exchanges to be up and ready on time.  

To date, CMS has not been able to provide satisfactory answers to a number of questions posed by myself and other members of Congress regarding the exchanges.

For example, we have yet to see a breakdown of the budget for the federally-facilitated exchange.

Furthermore, we still know very little about the operational details of the exchanges and even less about how people will enroll.

These are serious issues, Mr. President.   

With this system, you are asking American families to entrust the fate of their health care services to the empty words and deeds of an administration that has repeatedly shown a complete inability to be held accountable.  

More importantly, with the recent revelations of potentially criminal behavior at the Internal Revenue Service, I am very concerned about trusting that agency’s ability to work with CMS and HHS to deliver benefits for Americans through the exchanges.

Almost every day we see new indications that the health law is an unmitigated disaster. We are already seeing evidence that health insurance premium costs are continuing to rise and are projected to be, on average, 32 percent higher in the individual market.  

At the same time, according to numbers released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office, by 2019, almost 14 million Americans who would have had employer-provided coverage will no longer have it.  

Let me be very clear – Obamacare is fundamentally flawed. The only real way to fix it is to repeal it.

But until we can accomplish that goal we need to make sure that we are protecting our fellow citizens the best we can from all of the negative effects of this law.

In addition to overseeing this massive new expansion of benefits, Ms. Tavenner will also be charged with helping to ensure the longevity and solvency of the existing Medicare trust fund, which is projected to go bankrupt in 2024.  

All told, between now and 2030, 76 million baby boomers will become eligible for Medicare.  
Even factoring in deaths over that period, the program will grow from approximately 47 million beneficiaries today to roughly 80 million in 2030.  

Maintaining the solvency of the Medicare program while continuing to provide care for an ever increasing beneficiary base is going to require courageous solutions.   

I have had several conversations with Ms. Tavenner about the need for structural entitlement reform to ensure that these programs are here for the future generations.  I sincerely hope that we will continue to make progress on these critical issues.

Overseeing a massive bureaucracy like the one at CMS is not a job for the faint of heart.  I will be keeping a close eye on Ms. Tavenner as she takes the reins.

If she is to be successful, she’ll have to realize that she can’t do it alone.  She will have to work with members of Congress from both parties.  

I hope that she will do so.  Thus far, I have reason to believe that she will.  

However, if, under her leadership, CMS continues what has become a disappointing pattern in this administration – not responding to legitimate congressional inquiries and throwing promises of transparency by the wayside – I will use the full weight of my position as the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee to hold her fully accountable.

Mr. President, I appreciate Ms. Tavenner’s willingness to serve in this difficult position.  While I still have many concerns about the policies of this administration and the direction CMS is heading, I plan to vote in favor of her confirmation because she has the ability and the potential to be a real leader.

 

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