The Obama administration official in charge of a key part of health reform is stepping down just two weeks before the Supreme Court decides whether Obamacare is legal or not.
Steve Larsen is resigning as head of HHS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight effective in mid-July.
He will temporarily be replaced by Mike Hash, who currently heads the HHS Office of Health Reform.
Larsen will become executive vice president at OPTUM, a health services business within UnitedHealth Group, sources tell POLITICO.
Here is the full text of the email Tavenner sent to staffers Friday morning:
I write to share with you news that Steve Larsen has informed me of his decision to resign his role as Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) effective in mid July. As you know, Steve has been an instrumental part of our senior leadership team and I am deeply grateful for his dedication to our work to implement the Affordable Care Act.
Steve and I have worked closely over the past year in our efforts to incorporate the work of CCIIO into CMS. Together we have leveraged CMS’ strengths as we took on these new responsibilities and I am proud of our efforts to hold insurance companies accountable to consumers and our work with states and others to build a new insurance marketplace. His efforts helped to lay the foundation for our continued success and have put us on a path to make sure that these new marketplaces are available to consumers in every state in 2014.
In consultation with Secretary Sebelius, we have asked Mike Hash to serve as Interim Director of CCIIO while I work to recruit a permanent successor for this role. As the Director of the Office of Health Reform, Mike is an invaluable partner to CMS as we work to implement the Affordable Care Act. His knowledge of CMS and our work uniquely position him to seamlessly continue the progress we have made.
Please join me in thanking Steve for his dedicated leadership and service and giving Mike your full support as we continue our important work together. I am especially pleased we are able to have a strong leadership team in place at CMS as we move forward and am excited about all that we will continue to do to make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans.
The shake-up comes at a sensitive time for the office. If the Supreme Court upholds the healthcare reform law, CCIIO will have a lot of work to do helping states meet an end-of-the-year deadline for preparing to implement health insurance exchanges. But if the law is struck down the head of the agency will have to pick up the pieces.