According to two sources familiar with the situation, President Joe Biden is likely to nominate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The Washington Post was the first media outlet to publish about her expected nomination.
Currently, a managing director at professional services firm Manatt Health, Brooks-LaSure was a top CMS official during the Obama presidency and worked on implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Before joining the Obama administration, she was one of the Democratic staff for the House Ways and Means Committee. During the Biden-Harris transition period, Brooks-LaSure also worked as a co-lead of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency review team.
Brooks-LaSure would play a crucial role in delivering on Biden’s promises of strengthening Medicaid, lowering Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 60, rebuilding the Affordable Care Act, and establishing a government-run public option.
CMS is the largest agency within HHS and is worth $1 trillion. CMS looks after Healthcare.gov, the federal exchange, and much of Obamacare. CMS-administered programs (including Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program) help more than 145 million Americans receive their health coverage.
Brooks-LaSure would be responsible for reversing many of the policies Seema Verma, her predecessor, implemented. During her four-year tenure as the administrator of CMS, Verma reduced funding for Obamacare outreach and marketing, promoted the use of private insurance brokers over non-profit navigators to help the public find coverage, and shortened the open enrollment period by half. Verma also made some controversial decisions related to Medicaid, including allowing states to require low-income policyholders to work to receive the program’s benefits.
Brooks-LaSure’s nomination comes over two months after Biden picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his Health and Human Services secretary. His appointment has still not been confirmed by the two concerned Senate committees. The Senate will also be responsible for confirming Brooks-LaSure’s appointment as CMS administrator. The delay in confirming a CMS administrator and HHS secretary have impacted Biden’s decision to bolster the Affordable Care Act.