Slavitt, Conway rise in rank at CMS

A number of internal promotions and a few staff acquisitions from a Health and Human Services' insurance unit highlight a series of leadership changes at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it was announced on Monday.

Fueling the changes is the departure of CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner, who announced her resignation in mid-January. Long-term care is overwhelmingly paid for by Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Andy Slavitt, most recently CMS principal deputy administrator, was previously tapped to replace the CMS chief. Slavitt has been noted as a top spokesman for the rollout of the president's signature healthcare law in 2015.

Taking Slavitt's place will be Patrick Conway, M.D., who is leaving his post as deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMS chief medical officer.

Slavitt praised Conway in a memo Monday for his leadership in delivery system reform and “critical role” in driving and coordinating policy initiatives for CMS and its Children's Health Insurance program. He added that Conway will continue his leadership role with the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

According to one published report, Conway's principle tasks may include meeting HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell's goals regarding a shift toward rewarding quality rather than volume of care.

Additionally, Mandy Cohen will replace CMS Chief of Staff Aryana Khalid, who is set to leave March 6. Cohen will vacate her current post as principal deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). The agency describes itself as providing “national leadership in setting and enforcing standards for health insurance that promote fair and reasonable practices to ensure that affordable, quality health coverage.”

Another CCIIO staffer, Natalie Davis, will become Slavitt's senior adviser. Davis will leave her current role as a director in CCIIO's consumer support group, overseeing the team that provides technical assistance to marketplace assisters, according to Slavitt's memo.