Top health official involved with Obamacare resigns

CNN  — 

A top health official involved in the roll-out of Obamacare and who oversees the government’s administration of Medicare and Medicaid is resigning.

Marilyn Tavenner, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services top administrator, announced Friday in an email to staff that she will step down from her role at the end of February. Tavenner was under fire following the botched roll-out of and the scramble to make fixes amid the launch of the federal health insurance exchanges. She will step down just two weeks after the 2015 open enrollment period for Obamacare ends.

“It is with sadness and mixed emotions that I write to tell you that February will be my last month serving as the Administrator for CMS. I have great pride and joy knowing all that we have accomplished together since I came on board five years ago in February of 2010,” she wrote in her email to employees.

She called the role of managing the agency charged with overseeing Medicare and Medicaid a “huge and complex responsibility,” one that became more challenging with the passage of Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in 2010.

“With those changes came a whole new set of responsibilities and a spotlight that brightly shown on all of us as we managed the largest federal agency budget, strong opinions across the nation, and our ultimate mission of improving our country’s healthcare system and saving lives,” Tavenner wrote. “But with your hard work, dedication, commitment and resolve, you cleared the path and laid out a plan for all that we needed to accomplish. As a result, you are truly transforming healthcare in this country.”

Tavenner was most recently in the spotlight this fall when she was called to testify before the House oversight committee alongside Jonathan Gruber, the infamous MIT economist who talked about the “stupidity” of American voters in discussing the passage of the landmark health care law.

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But Tavenner didn’t always draw the ire of Republicans like Gruber did.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the finance committee, praised Tavenner in a statement Friday, shortly after learning of her resignation.

“Marilyn has done a great job in a very difficult position under near impossible circumstances. She has proven herself to be a strong leader and a straight-shooter who brought in much needed private sector sensibility into the agency. I truly appreciate her service and wish her the very best in her next adventure,” he said.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell pointed out bipartisan support for Tavenner in an email to staff Friday morning, pointing to her overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate confirmation to the post.

Burwell also praised the “historic results” Tavenner achieved while at the helm of the agency, which included extending the solvency of Medicare to 2030, work to improve the quality of U.S. health care and her “leadership” in the inauguration of the federal health insurance exchange.

“She worked day and night so that millions of Americans could finally obtain the security and peace of mind of quality health insurance at a price they could afford. It’s a measure of her tenacity and dedication that after the tough initial rollout of, she helped right the ship, bringing aboard a systems integrator and overseeing an overhaul of the website,” Burwell wrote.