The nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was stalled on the Senate floor Wednesday after Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) placed a hold on it. Senators are allowed to use this parliamentary procedure to prevent a motion from reaching the floor.
Senator Harkin’s office referred to testimony by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as the reason for the hold. Sebelius testified before the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee that funds for the prevention section of the Affordable Care Act are being used to promote the insurance marketplaces. Harkin responded at the hearing by stating ““Robbing prevention when we know these efforts can improve people’s health and lower health care costs goes against the very mission of health care reform.”
Tavenner has been Acting Administrator as CMS since late 2011, previously serving as a nurse, hospital executive, and Virginia secretary of health and human services. According to CQ, CMS has not had a senate confirmed administrator in seven years.