Cornyn places hold on Biden Medicaid nominee

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Greg Nash

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is placing a hold on President Biden’s nominee to oversee Medicaid, an apparent sign of the anger from Republicans over the withdrawal of Texas’s Medicaid waiver last week.

Cornyn’s office said Tuesday that he would put up a procedural roadblock to the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

He accused the Biden administration of playing “political chicken” by rescinding federal funds for Texas in a bid to pressure the state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

“Senator Cornyn placed the hold after the Biden Administration decided to play political chicken with uninsured Texans’ healthcare,” a Cornyn spokesperson said. “He’s requested additional information from the nominee and the Administration about how they plan to ensure our most vulnerable Texans don’t lose their healthcare because of their actions.” 

The Biden administration moved last week to rescind a Medicaid waiver given to Texas in the final days of the Trump administration. That waiver extended federal funds that reimburse hospitals for providing care for uninsured people. Advocates of Medicaid expansion have long argued it would make much more sense to give people health insurance in the first place, through Medicaid. 

Brooks-LaSure is not yet confirmed, therefore she did not play a role in rescinding Texas’s waiver. 

The Biden administration cited procedural grounds for rescinding the waiver, saying the Trump administration skipped a public comment period. But the move is also potentially a bid to spur Medicaid expansion in the state. 

Republicans in Texas have long resisted accepting the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA. 

Cornyn’s procedural roadblock only has the ability to slow the nomination, not stop it, as long as Democrats have 50 votes.

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote to move the nomination forward on Thursday. 

Stat first reported Cornyn’s hold. 

“As demonstrated in the Senate Finance Committee hearing, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is immensely qualified and ready to lead CMS, and we look forward to working with Senator Cornyn to advance her nomination,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said.

Tags Affordable Care Act CMS HHS Joe Biden John Cornyn Medicaid Medicare ObamaCare
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