Senate confirms Biden pick to lead Medicare, Medicaid office

Screenshot CSPAN

The Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm President Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who will be the first Black woman to hold the key health policy position. 

In a 55-44 vote, the upper chamber approved Brooks-LaSure as the CMS administrator, where she will oversee the Biden administration’s goals of expanding the Affordable Care Act. 

Her confirmation brings another Obama-era official into Biden’s administration; Brooks-LaSure served in the former president’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in implementing the Affordable Care Act.    

Five Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting Brooks-LaSure’s confirmation: Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). 

The confirmation came after GOP lawmakers had opposed her nomination following the Biden administration’s decision to rescind Texas’s Medicaid waiver previously granted by the Trump administration.

Last month, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced he would place a hold on Brooks-LaSure’s nomination, after the Biden administration ended the waiver providing hospitals with federal funded reimbursements for treating uninsured people. 

“Senator Cornyn placed the hold after the Biden Administration decided to play political chicken with uninsured Texans’ healthcare,” a Cornyn spokesperson said at the time. 

Biden’s CMS argued that the Trump administration did not give the required time for public comment on the waiver. Texas responded to the decision by filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration. 

Brooks-LaSure had not been confirmed when the Medicaid waiver was rescinded, so she had not participated in the decision.  

The Senate Finance Committee previously was divided on whether to move her nomination forward to the full Senate, with all Republicans voting against her advancement. But Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) succeeded in bringing the confirmation vote to the floor.

Hospital group America’s Essential Hospitals congratulated Brooks-LaSure on her confirmation.

“Brooks-LaSure takes the reins at CMS at a critical juncture for our nation, as COVID-19 and its lingering economic effects make access to health care coverage more important than ever,” Beth Feldpush, the organization’s senior vice president of policy and advocacy, said. “Her intimate knowledge of, and experience with, Medicaid and Medicare make her well suited to meet these challenges.”

Tags ACA Affordable Care Act Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Chuck Schumer Jerry Moran Joe Biden John Cornyn Lisa Murkowski Medicaid Medicare Richard Burr Roy Blunt Senate confirmation Susan Collins

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