Medicare-Medicaid head confirmed

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Marilyn Tavenner, a former nurse and hospital company executive, as the first full-fledged administrator for the Medicare and Medicaid health-care programs since 2006.

In a rare show of bipartisanship on a health-care issue, senators voted 91 to 7 to back President Obama’s nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an $820 billion agency that oversees the bulk of federal health-care spending and health-care reform.

Tavenner has served as acting CMS administrator since late 2010. Her formal elevation comes at a time of mounting pressure on CMS as it acts to implement Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by Jan. 1. Medicare and Medicaid also are on the firing line for potential deficit reduction.

Her confirmation is the first for a CMS administrator since Mark McClellan left in 2006 after overseeing the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit during the George W. Bush administration.

— Reuters

Jurors find Arias eligible for execution

Jurors in Jodi Arias’s trial Wednesday found that the former waitress should be eligible for the death penalty after they convicted her last week of murdering her onetime boyfriend.

The decision came after a day of testimony in the “aggravation” phase of the trial, during which the prosecutor hoped to prove that the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander was committed in a cruel and heinous manner.

The trial now moves into the final phase, during which prosecutors will call the victim’s family members and other witnesses in an effort to convince the panel that Arias should be given the ultimate punishment. Arias’s attorneys also will call witnesses in an attempt to convince jurors that they should give her life in prison.

— Associated Press

Police detonate 17 explosive devices

A police bomb squad detonated 17 homemade explosive devices found in a West Los Angeles apartment Wednesday after officers spotted an explosive liquid in a man’s car during a routine traffic stop, police said.

Robert Wilson, 29, was booked on felony possession of a destructive device, police said. Authorities said there were no signs he planned to use the devices. They believe Wilson, described as a “hobbyist, lone wolf, tweaker” on probation for a weapons violation, had no apparent link to terrorism.

The apartment complex and three surrounding buildings were evacuated, and several blocks were sealed off before officers detonated the explosive devices — primarily pipe bombs and their component parts — found in the apartment.

— Associated Press