KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Tavenner’s Smooth Path To Confirmation Hits A Bump

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has put a hold on the Obama administration's pick to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in order to highlight his concerns about the administration's interest in raiding the health law's prevention fund to pay for the costs of getting health exchanges up and running.  

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Sen. Harkin Has A Hold On Obama's Medicare Pick. What Gives?
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously supported her nomination. She has the support of multiple former Medicare heads; one compared her to Mother Teresa. Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who does not like Obamacare one bit, really likes Marilyn Tavenner. Enter, Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who has put a hold on Tavenner's nomination. Harkin is demanding, according to spokeswoman Katie Cyrul Frischmann, "An ongoing conversation about the future of the prevention fund" (Kliff, 4/24).

The Hill: Harkin Places Hold On Top Healthcare Nominee
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has placed a hold on one of President Obama's top healthcare nominees. Marilyn Tavenner had previously seemed poised for an easy, bipartisan confirmation as the administrator of the federal Medicare and Medicaid agency (Baker, 4/24).

Politico: Tom Harkin Makes Hurdle For Obama's CMS Chief
Harkin told POLITICO he'd hold up the confirmation "until we get some things worked out." He said he's meeting with the administration about the prevention money and has some ideas about other ways to get the funds. Congress has not granted HHS the money it has requested to get the health insurance exchanges up and running (Cunningham and Haberkorn, 4/24).

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defends the idea of redirecting these funds -

CQ HealthBeat: Sebelius Defends Transfer Of Health Law Money
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday defended the Obama administration’s decision to take money from a preventive health fund to help implement the upcoming insurance exchanges, despite concerns from leading Senate appropriators. Jerry Moran, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, questioned the secretary’s authority to transfer preventive health funds for the exchanges that would be run by the federal government (Attias, 4/24).

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