President Joe Biden has nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Ms. Brooks-LaSure took part in setting up the ACA’s commercial health insurance programs as well as its public health insurance exchange system under former President Obama. If her nomination is confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first African American woman to be CMS Administrator.
As head of the CMS, Brooks-LaSure would help regulate almost $3 trillion in spending by Medicare plans, Medicaid plans, and individual and group major medical policies that fall under the ACA. Many are hopeful that, because of her background, she will move the health insurance industry in the right direction.
Brooks-LaSure earned a master’s in public policy from Georgetown University and, before that, a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. She has an impressive track record in the government: she held health policy jobs at the White House and at CMS during the Obama administration. From 1999-2003, she worked as a program examiner in the Health and Human Services Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. She then went to work as director at Avalere Health from 2003-2007.
After those 4 years, she decided to go back to work for the federal government. She spent from 2007-2009 on the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee, then from 2009-2012, she was director of coverage policy at the HHS Office of Health Reform. Lastly, from 2012-2014, she was deputy director of policy and regulation at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.
Health Groups Praise Biden’s Pick
Providers are happy with President Biden’s pick of Ms. Brooks-LaSure. “America’s hospitals and health systems applaud the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as the next administrator of CMS,” American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement. “She is well equipped to lead CMS and we look forward to working with her to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and advance the health of all our patients and communities.”
America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH) released a statement supporting Brooks-LaSure’s nomination, citing her “deep expertise in Medicaid and Medicare policies and her role in advancing coverage” under the ACA.
“We also welcome Brooks-LaSure’s nomination due to her long-standing focus on disparities in health and health care, such as those that affect the underrepresented people our hospitals serve,” Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, CEO of AEH, said in a statement. “Her work to combat maternal mortality and morbidity makes her well suited to meet this urgent challenge for our nation.”
As of now, no confirmation hearing has been scheduled.