A change in leadership at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may work in favor of insurance brokers.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that Andrew Slavitt, CMS’ second-ranking official, will take over as the new acting head of the agency, following the resignation of Marilyn Tavenner.

Having Slavitt — who before joining CMS was an executive vice president at Optum — take the reins, even on an interim basis, is a positive for brokers, says Michael Lujan, the former head of sales and marketing at California’s state-run public exchange and current president and co-founder of Redwood City, Calif.-based Limelight Health.

He explains that it takes one skillset to implement policy and another to make it operational and carry through. “Andy is an indicator of who they might put in permanently,” he says. “That’s great; someone with industry background who knows how to operate this stuff.”

The head of the agency behind the rollout of the Affordable Care Act announced Friday that she is stepping down at the end of February. While no reasons were given by her or the agency, those who monitor the space say the timing of the announcement may provide some clues.

Tavenner announced her resignation in a Friday e-mail to staff, writing, “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.”

Lujan says the timing of her announcement before 2015 open enrollment ends on Feb. 15 and data on enrollment is provided may be telling. MD Sam Smith of Encino, Calif.-based Genesis Insurance agrees, noting that when the Medicaid budget figures for Medicaid expansion start coming in, “you will see [officials] running for every rock they can crawl under,” due to numbers so much bigger than originally thought  and not wanting to explain to Congress “what went wrong.”

The Republican-led Congress is going to be looking to get answers and create “high heat to create headlines” for the 2016 presidential election, says Smith.

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