5 things to know about new CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt

Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator of CMS, is now serving as the agency's administrator — at least temporarily — since the resignation of former administrator Marilyn Tavenner came into effect at the end of February.

In mid-January, Ms. Tavenner announced her plan to resign at the end of February. She had worked with CMS since early 2010, and was appointed administrator in May 2013. During her tenure at CMS, Ms. Tavenner played a major role in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and turbulent launch of the HealthCare.gov marketplace. According to the Washington Post, Ms. Tavenner's staff didn't offer an explanation for her resignation.  

Here are 5 things to know about her replacement, Mr. Slavitt.

1. Mr. Slavitt has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector, most recently serving as group executive vice president for United Health Group's Optum unit, according to CMS. There, he oversaw the delivery of clinical, technological and operational solutions to healthcare clients and consumers.

Before serving as group executive vice president Optum, Mr. Slavitt was CEO of OptumInsight, a subsidiary of Optum, from 2006 to 2011. He also served in several other roles at UnitedHealth Group, including co-chairing UnitedHealth Group's Innovation Council and leading the consumer solutions business.

2. Quality Software Services, an Optum subsidiary, was hired by CMS to develop HealthCare.gov's data services hub and registration tool that allows users to create secure accounts. According to The Business Journals, when the website was first launched, the registration tool was overwhelmed due to a bottleneck which Mr. Slavitt attributed to CMS' late decision to require users to register for an account before browsing for health plans, which led to too many people attempting to register at once.

CMS gave Quality Software Services another contract to fix the website, and replaced CGI Federal with Accenture in January 2014 to serve as HealthCare.gov's lead contractor, according to the report.

3. Mr. Slavitt officially joined CMS in June 2014 when CMS Secretary Sylvia Burwell named him principal deputy administrator to succeed Jonathan Blum. Mr. Slavitt's appointment into this role was intended to help fix HealthCare.gov and solidify leadership and decision-making.

"These actions will bolster our team and further instill ongoing accountability for reaching milestones, measuring results and delivering results for the American people," said Secretary Burwell. "Under this new structure, we bring additional operational and technological fire power and have a clear single point of contact in the marketplace CEO to streamline decision-making."

4. Mr. Slavitt's responsibilities as principal deputy administrator included cross-cutting policy and operational coordination for CMS' Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and marketplace programs, efforts to expand access to health coverage, combat healthcare fraud, reform healthcare delivery and improve health outcomes, according to CMS.

5. While Mr. Slavitt fulfills administrator duties, Patrick Conway, MD, CMO of CMS, will take on Mr. Slavitt's responsibilities as acting principal deputy administrator. Dr. Conway, who is also CMS' deputy administrator for innovation, will continue to head the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

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