Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Visits NYU Wagner

Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS), visited NYU Wagner on January 30 and fielded questions about her extensive career, management learnings, and the Affordable Care Act from Dean Sherry Glied and a group of NYU Wagner students working toward an MPA in Health Policy and Management.

Ms. Tavenner started out in the healthcare field as a nurse. As the current Administrator for the CMS, she manages an $820 billion federal agency that, among many other tasks, has overseen the signup of more than 3 million Americans, and counting, for health insurance coverage under the landmark Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in March, 2010. The agency is also implementing insurance reforms and the Affordable Insurance Exchanges included in the health reform law.

In describing some of her recent successes and challenges in a complex public arena, she noted she never set out to become one of the nation’s top healthcare officials. But she said she has always embraced and truly enjoyed each of her roles, as nurse, healthcare administrator at both state and federal levels, executive of a hospital chain, and her present top-tier post. Along the way she has learned to trust her instincts, listen closely to her staff and the public, and "be yourself."

Her most recent experiences as an appointee of President Barack Obama have demonstrated anew to her that the healthcare field is fast-changing, a vital part of the economy and well-being of everyone's community and country, and a rich and deeply rewarding area in which to be involved.

“I wouldn’t trade any of the jobs I’ve had,” Ms. Tavenner said. “It’s a great career.”