The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at last has a new administrator. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head CMS by a 55 to 44 vote, with four Republicans joining Democrats to support the confirmation.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) applauded Brooks-LaSure’s confirmation.
“Chiquita Brooks-LaSure brings solid experience to a very difficult job,” NAHC President Bill Dombi said. “Over the years, she has demonstrated a high degree of capability and the versatility to handle the wide range of matters that occur in Medicare and Medicaid. We look forward to working with her to expand access to home- and community-based services [HCBS] and make the home the center of health care.”
Brooks-LaSure is the first Black woman to head CMS and joins the agency with extensive experience in federal health policy. She served as a health policy adviser to former President Barack Obama. Prior to that, she served as a congressional health policy advisor.
Despite Brooks-LaSure’s credentials, her nomination became a bone of contention in the Senate Finance Committee, which split over her confirmation. Leading the opposition was Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who opposed a decision by the Biden administration to rescind his state’s Medicaid waiver extension. The extension had been approved by former President Donald Trump without a required public comment period.
CMS is one of the most powerful divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services. Brooks-LaSure will oversee a $1 trillion budget that includes the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace and regulations.
Brooks-LaSure will manage CMS at a time when the Biden White House is looking to expand Medicaid and grant more power to Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs. She also comes at a time when there is growing consumer pressure to grow HCBS.