The Senate Finance Committee was divided along party lines late last week on the nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The 14-14 split among Democrats and Republicans means the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure heads to the full Senate without a recommendation for confirmation.
Republicans voted against Brooks-LaSure in protest over the Biden administration’s decision to rescind the extension of Texas’s Medicaid waiver. In January, former President Donald Trump extended the waiver another 10 years without the normal public comment period.
Texas Senator John Cornyn led the protest votes, stating the administration had set a “dangerous precedent of undoing agreements made in good faith.”
“Until Texas can receive assurance that this action will be rectified and the rug will not be pulled out from under our poorest patients, I cannot support the nominee,” Cornyn said.
The Texas Medicaid waiver would have provided $11.7 billion to the state annually through 2030. About 300,000 Texans receive in-home care through the state’s Medicaid program. The rescission means if no action is taken to address it, the waiver will expire at the end of September.
Last week, Rachel Hammon, executive director of the Texas Association for Home Care and Hospice, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily the association was disappointed by the decision but was optimistic the state will ultimately get the waiver after going through a public comment period.
Brooks-LaSure may likely get approved. Under Senate rules, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) or Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can make a motion to vote on the nominee without a Senate Finance Committee recommendation.
If the full Senate is split in half over the vote, Vice President Kamala Harris can cast the tie-breaking vote.