Brooks-LaSure Confirmed As First Black Woman to Head CMS

The top officials who will shape the Biden administration’s health policy continue to emerge, as reports indicate that the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been locked in.

Biden’s pick, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, was confirmed this week in a 55-44 Senate vote, with five Republicans supporting the confirmation, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

“Congratulations to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who the Senate just confirmed as the first Black woman to lead CMS,” Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) posted to Twitter on Tuesday. “Her leadership will help make high-quality health care more accessible, affordable, and equitable.”


Brooks-LaSure, a managing director at the consulting and advisory firm Manatt Health, has prior experience at CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

She now holds one of the most important jobs in health care as the head of CMS, managing roughly $1 trillion of the federal budget and overseeing some of HHS’ most important programs.

Federation of American Hospitals President and CEO Chip Kahn congratulated Brooks-LaSure in a statement released after the vote.


“We look forward to working with Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as American health care emerges from the COVID crisis. With over two decades experience in health policy, including roles at CMS, HHS, and on Capitol Hill, Brooks-LaSure is uniquely qualified to step into the position of administrator and have an immediate and positive impact,” he said in a statement released after the vote.

The Association for Community Affiliated Plans also congratulated the new CMS administrator, applauding “her support for policies that root out racial inequities in maternal health, and her spoken desire to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and restore protections lost over the last four years.”

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last month, Brooks-LaSure previewed what she would prioritize as CMS administrator.

“If confirmed I will work to make CMS programs work together better and remain the pillars of our health care system. This includes addressing Medicare solvency to protect Medicare for current and future beneficiaries,” she said.

Her confirmation went by more smoothly than California attorney general Xavier Becerra, who was voted in as secretary of HHS by a 50-49 margin

Both leadership roles have been filled on an acting basis since the departure of former HHS head Alex Azar and former CMS administrator Seema Verma following Trump’s departure from office.

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