AHIP names new CEO as Marilyn Tavenner steps down

Three years after moving from administrator of CMS to lead health insurance lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Marilyn Tavenner has announced plans to retire effective June 1, with AHIP’s chief operating officer Matt Eyles taking over her role as president and CEO.

Tavenner’s departure comes after some tumultuous years at AHIP. After being a major player in crafting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), AHIP has seen three of the country’s largest insurers—UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana—leave the organization, taking with them some of the lobby’s clout and resources as it fought changes to the ACA in 2017. It spent $6.5 million on lobbying last year, a 40 percent decline from 2013, and suffered defeats on priorities like continuing the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies and maintaining the individual mandate.

In the press release announcing her retirement, however, AHIP leaders spoke only in favorable terms about Tavenner’s tenure.

“Marilyn’s track record of service and success is a model for every leader,” said Bernard Tyson, AHIP board chair and chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “She has delivered real results for AHIP and our industry in a time of extraordinary change and uncertainty.”

Eyles has worked alongside Tavenner since 2015, when he joined AHIP as executive vice president of policy and regulatory affairs. He was promoted to COO in 2017. Before coming onboard at AHIP, he held positions at Avalere Health, Coventry Health Care and pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Eli Lilly.

“Matt is one of the most experienced leaders in Washington,” Tavenner said in a statement. “We have partnered together on real solutions that allow health insurance providers to better serve the millions of Americans they work for every day. We worked closely with the Board to plan an effective transition to ensure that under Matt’s leadership, AHIP will continue to be the industry leader for years to come.”

Eyles holds undergraduate degrees in political science and history from George Washington University and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Rochester. Saying AHIP will “continue to focus on solutions that deliver more affordable choices and higher quality for every American,” he also talked about a short-term priority in an interview with POLITICO: passing bills to restore CSRs and fund additional reinsurance for the ACA markets.

“We think it’s critically important to get a stabilization, premium reduction package in place,” Eyles said. “The time is now.“