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Documents: Email Messages Sent To CMS Staff Regarding Berwick Departure

November 23, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, the White House earlier today announced the President’s intent to nominate Marilyn Tavenner for the position of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Marilyn’s distinguished career in health care and deep knowledge of our efforts to implement health reform make her the right person for this job at this moment in history.  Her career as a nurse, hospital administrator, and Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources give her unique insights that position her well to serve as Administrator.  

Dr. Don Berwick, our current CMS Administrator, informed me of his decision to resign his post effective December 2.  I am deeply grateful to Don for his leadership as we began our efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act.  His unwavering passion and dedication to this work have put the nation on  a path that is already making a meaningful difference to millions of Americans.  Don has led the agency as we have launched exciting new programs that are saving money, fighting fraud, transforming our health care delivery system, providing new benefits to people with Medicare, holding insurance companies accountable to consumers, and working to establish Affordable Insurance Exchanges. 

Under Don’s leadership, CMS has undertaken innovative new work to drive better care, better health, and lower costs through improvement while keeping the needs of patients and a commitment to quality at the center of all decisions.  His efforts are helping Medicare to lead the way in achieving care coordination and more affordable costs.  And, last year alone, our anti-fraud efforts returned $4 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund and we have extended the life of the Trust Fund by 8 years.  Through these efforts, the agency’s commitment to high-quality care is embedded throughout the organization and will be felt by millions of Americans for years to come. 

Don has helped to forge critical partnerships on behalf of HHS, including the Partnership for Patients and Million Hearts initiatives, which leverage public- and private-sector commitments to help improve health and health care nationwide.  Through his forward thinking and commitment to continual improvement, he has built efficiencies in CMS operations, including taking new steps to reduce administrative burdens in our programs and provide high-quality customer service to those we serve.

At every juncture, Marilyn Tavenner has been an invaluable partner and a guiding force in these important efforts.  As the Principal Deputy Administrator at CMS for nearly two years and as former Acting Administrator, she has proved her skill in managing challenges like overseeing the integration of the insurance oversight into CMS and implementing the numerous improvements to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Marilyn will serve as Acting Administrator after Don’s departure, and I know that she will strongly and ably guide the agency at this critical time.

Please join me in thanking Don for his dedicated leadership and service and in giving Marilyn your full support as we continue our important work together.  I know that Don will no doubt continue to be an important and powerful voice in our collective efforts to improve health care across the country.  And we have a strong leadership team in place at CMS to continue to build on our positive momentum as we move forward.


Kathleen Sebelius

November 23, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

I write with bittersweet emotions to share personally what you have probably now seen in a note from Secretary Sebelius.  I have informed her of my decision to resign my post as CMS Administrator, effective December 2.  Although this does not come as a surprise to many of you, I nonetheless want to take this moment to tell you how honored I feel to have had the chance to work with such a dedicated team of people at CMS and HHS for the past year and a half.  We have made history together both in implementing the Affordable Care Act and in conducting and improving the crucial ongoing work of our Agency and Department.

Our work has been challenging, and the journey is not complete, but we are now well on our way to achieving a whole new level of security and quality for health care in America, helping not just the millions of Americans affected directly by our programs, but truly health care as a whole in our nation.

The mission of CMS is inspiring, and the people of CMS are among the most talented I have worked with in my career.  You have embraced the “Three-Part Aim” – Better Care, Better Health, and Lower Cost through improvement – in all that we do and have worked tirelessly to keep those we serve at the forefront of our efforts. I have seen firsthand the difference you are all making as I’ve traveled the country, visiting our regional offices and meeting with beneficiaries, health care professionals, and many other stakeholders to discuss CMS programs and the promise of the Affordable Care Act.  I am proud of what we have accomplished together and of all that you will continue to do moving forward to improve health and health care for the American people. 

I also ask that you now give Marilyn Tavenner the same support and cooperation you have given me.  She has been a tremendous partner in our work together and is well prepared to take on this role in her own right at this important moment.  You already know, as I do, that she shares deeply our commitment to the important work of CMS especially as we launch new programs that are transforming health and our health care system.  With Marilyn, our senior leadership team, and the accomplished CMS staff I am confident that you will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of the millions we serve today and those you will serve in the future.

With sincere thanks,

Don Berwick