Former ObamaCare official becomes top lobbyist for insurers

Former ObamaCare official becomes top lobbyist for insurers
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A former administration official who oversaw the rollout of ObamaCare will be taking over as top lobbyist for a major insurance industry trade group.

Marilynn Tavenner was unanimously confirmed Wednesday as president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).


"There is no better individual than Marilyn to lead our industry through the increasingly complex health care transformation that is underway,” said Mark Ganz, the chairman of AHIP’s board, in a statement.

“Marilyn is a recognized leader who brings the experience, tenacity, and dedication to achieve our advocacy goals and to move the health system forward in a way that is patient-centered. She has the respect and trust of policymakers and stakeholders from all sides, and a personal commitment to advance meaningful solutions for improving access to quality, affordable care for all Americans.”

Tavenner will take over the job weeks after AHIP lost longtime advocate Karen Ignagni, who spent 22 years there. Ignagni had been a major player during the crafting and the rollout of ObamaCare.

AHIP picked Tavenner two months after Ignagni announced she was leaving.

"I am honored to join this association and to lead this industry that is deeply committed to improving care delivery and affordability for individuals and families," Tavenner said.

Tavenner announced in January that she would be stepping down from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). She had been the agency’s first confirmed head in nine years.

She had a prickly relationship with the insurance industry during her nearly five years in the administration.

During the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, Tavenner worked alongside former HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusWorking for lasting change Former HHS secretary Sebelius joins marijuana industry group More than 200 Obama officials sign letter supporting Biden's stimulus plan MORE to appease health insurance companies that were furious over the glitch-prone website.

Most recently, she took heat after a GOP-led investigation found her agency had inflated ObamaCare enrollment figures by including about 200,000 dental plans, which she called a mistake. Rep Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who led the probe with the House Oversight Committee, attributed his findings to her resignation this spring. 

The Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it was appointing Andy Slavitt, who currently serves as acting administrator, to assume Tavenner’s former post.

Tavenner's unexpected jump to AHIP is the latest in high-profile shake-ups among K Street health giants.

In the last few weeks, the top lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, John Castellani, announced his retirement, as did the CEOs of the American Hospital Association and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Last updated at 2 p.m.