Biden to nominate Brooks-LaSure to oversee CMS – STAT

WASHINGTON — President Biden plans to nominate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a health policy consultant and veteran Democratic aide, as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to three sources familiar with the decision.

If confirmed by the Senate, Brooks-LaSure, whose nomination was first reported by the Washington Post, would wield substantial power both over the trillion-dollar safety-net health agency and government health care more broadly. But it remains to be seen how much leeway she and her deputies would have to push large-scale reforms.

Brooks-LaSure would also inherit an agency dogged by countless controversies during the Trump administration. Many centered on the former CMS administrator, Seema Verma, who pursued policies that transformed the agency’s mission and repeatedly landed it in court.

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Brooks-LaSure would inherit those lawsuits, most notably a Supreme Court case set to be argued in March challenging the agency’s new policy of denying health coverage to unemployed Medicaid beneficiaries. The Supreme Court is still scheduled to hear the case on March 29, although the Biden administration took action last week to begin reversing the policy, which could moot the lawsuit before it’s argued. That’s far from the agency’s only lawsuit: CMS is currently facing two other challenges from hospitals alone, and is also fending off lawsuits from drug makers and seniors’ groups.

Biden can’t count on Congress to help implement his health care agenda. The Senate, which is currently divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, is unlikely to pass
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