The Senate confirmed Brooks-LaSure as CMS administrator in a narrow vote earlier, making her the first Black woman to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) by a vote of 55 to 44.
- Historic decision of the senate: Brooks-LaSure is the first Black woman to lead the agency overseeing Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) since its establishment nearly six decades ago. This is not Brooks-LaSure’s first time at CMS. She previously served as deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the agency, and earlier at HHS as director of coverage policy where she led the agency’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
- New hope for the black community: “During my career, I’ve seen how communities of color too often experience worse health outcomes, which we’ve seen so acutely during this pandemic,” she said at the hearing. “Last year in April, my own hometown, a predominately black community where my parents still live, experienced higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths compared to much of the surrounding communities. If confirmed, I look forward to working with each of you to expand access to quality care for all communities.”
- An expert in her field: Until recently, Brooks-LaSure served as managing director of Manatt Health. Now, she will serve as CMS Administrator as the agency faces a critical crossroads—healthcare in a post-pandemic world. At her Senate confirmation hearing in April, Brooks-LaSure touched on her vision for CMS as it grapples with issues made worse by the pandemic, such as health inequity.
- Telehealth reimbursement: Other major issues brought up during the hearing included telehealth reimbursement post-pandemic, Medicaid waivers, prescription drug pricing legislation, 340B Drug Pricing Program, and whether the Medicare eligibility age should be lowered. “We congratulate Ms. Brooks-LaSure on her historic confirmation,” Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), said in a statement following the vote.
- A committed CMO towards healthcare: “Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s historic appointment and confirmation as the first Black woman to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services further demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to bringing diverse perspectives and seasoned leaders to drive and improve the U.S. health care system. Chiquita, an expert in health care policy and a veteran of CMS, will be a trusted steward of our nation’s health insurance programs and a critical partner as we tackle the nation’s health care challenges,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.