This week, the Senate Finance Committee will consider President Biden’s nominee for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. Brooks-LaSure has the experience and qualifications necessary to be an outstanding Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and will be the first African American woman to serve in the role. Brooks-LaSure has decades of experience in health policy, including serving as a key implementer of the Affordable Care Act at the Department of Health and Human Services and working to draft the law as a Congressional aide. Brooks-LaSure has drawn support from a wide variety of health stakeholders, including the American Hospital Association and the American Association of Medical Colleges. 

Experience

  • Brooks-LaSure currently serves as Managing Director at Manatt, a national professional services firm. She also serves on the board of FAIRHealth, a nonprofit working to increase health care cost transparency. 
  • Brooks-LaSure served in multiple senior health policy roles in the Obama administration. As deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and at the Department of Health & Human Services as director of coverage policy, she led the agency’s implementation of ACA coverage and insurance reform policy provisions.
  • Brooks-LaSure served on the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means’ Democratic staff, where she worked on the Affordable Care Act and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) of 2008.
  • Brooks-LaSure earned an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University. 

Focus On Equity And Expansion

  • Brooks-LaSure is very active on issues related to the expansion of health care coverage and is “a thought-leader on ways to expand coverage through the ACA and novel state-based innovations.” Brooks-LaSure recently authored a paper for Health Affairs defending the ACA’s record in increasing health care coverage, noting that coverage for the poor “remains the most significant unfinished business of the ACA,” which she said is the result of states declining to expand Medicaid. 
  • Brooks-LaSure has shown a strong personal interest in issues like maternal health and co-authored a paper for State Health and Value Strategies arguing that Medicaid has a pivotal role to play in improving national health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum women. In another 2020 article on maternal health disparities, Brooks-LaSure emphasized that key challenges facing many pregnant women are complex and changing benefits eligibility and maintaining continuity of coverage, “This is clearly an area where states can help make sure that the various groups that help people enroll in coverage today are funded and be aware of this issue.” 
  • In a 2019 Ways and Means Committee hearing on universal health care, Brooks-LaSure testified on inequities in the health care system. She cited maternal mortality statistics, indicating “African American women, regardless of insurance status, are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.” In her view, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated underlying “cracks in our health system,” that could be corrected by Medicaid expansion, saying poor individuals have “no access to coverage because their states have not expanded Medicaid.”

Stakeholders From Across The Health Care Community Know That Chiquita Brooks-LaSure Is A Superb Choice For CMS Administrator

  • The American Hospital Association supports Brooks-LaSure. “America’s hospitals and health systems applaud the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement “her previous experiences as a senior CMS and HHS official who helped implement the Affordable Care Act and her work on the House Ways and Means Committee gives her a deep understanding of the importance of health care coverage and protections for consumers. 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.”
  • AdvaMed, the world’s largest trade organization representing medical technology companies supports Brooks-LaSure’s nomination saying, “We congratulate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure on her nomination to lead CMS and we look forward to working closely with her if confirmed by the Senate. Her strong experience at both HHS and CMS has prepared her well for this important role.”  
  • Stakeholders from across the hospice and serious illness care community applaud Brooks-LaSure’s nomination. “C-TAC is pleased to see that Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a health policy expert and veteran of CMS, has been chosen to lead the agency,” said Coalition to Transform Advanced Care Executive Director Jon Broyles. “We are thrilled that Chiquita Brooks-LaSure has been nominated to lead CMS. She understands the inner workings of government and has a deep appreciation for health advocacy,” said National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization President and CEO Edo Banach. “Chiquita Brooks-LaSure would bring solid experience to a very difficult job,” said National Association for Home Care & Hospice President Bill Dombi. “Over the years, she has demonstrated a high degree of capability and the versatility to handle the wide range on matters that occur in Medicare and Medicaid.”
  • Long term care providers support Brooks-LaSure’s appointment. “Never has there been a more crucial time to serve as the head of CMS, with so much at stake for our vulnerable patients and those who care for them,” the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said in a statement. “We look forward to an open dialogue with Brooks-LaSure, so that we can foster a collaborative relationship with all stakeholders about how to support long term care providers in keeping residents safe as well as offering the highest quality care.  LeadingAge added that it’s “looking forward to working with her.” 
  • The American Association of Medical Colleges supports Brooks-LaSure’s nomination saying that she has “been a strong, persistent, and effective voice in support of increasing patient access to vital health care, and her detailed understanding of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as her commitment to health equity, makes her a welcome partner in academic medicine’s work to improve the health of people everywhere.”