Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is President Biden’s choice to be the next leader of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Washington Post reported Wednesday afternoon, citing multiple unnamed sources.
A senior CMS official in the Obama administration, Brooks-LaSure is currently managing director at Manatt Health, a professional services firm where she has been employed for a little over five years.
She was mentioned as one of two finalists for CMS administrator, along with North Carolina Health Secretary Mandy Cohen, in a McKnight’s Long-Term Care News article nine days ago.
The CMS administrator position requires Senate confirmation. It is not known how much resistance she might receive in the upper chamber. But with Democrats holding the majority since the vice president would be called upon to break any ties, it appears that the nomination would be safe. Veteran CMS staffers Elizabeth “Liz” Richter and Jeff Wu are the acting heads of the agency until a new administrator is confirmed.
Brooks-LaSure would take the reins of nursing homes’ top regulatory and funding agency. With a budget of $1 trillion, CMS also oversees the Affordable Care Act, something she was instrumental in bringing to fruition and implementing on a broader scale.
Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson described Brooks-LaSure as “very calm and very measured” in a Washington Post report earlier this month. She worked for the firm from 2003 to 2007.
“She doesn’t react too quickly and I think that kind of thoughtfulness will be really useful given the range of issues they have to deal with right now,” Mendelson said.
Brooks-LaSure could oversee a rocky period for long-term care providers. President Biden’s campaign included pledges to expand Medicare and Medicaid coverage and funding. His platform, however, also included goals of restoring mandatory penalties for nursing facilities that violate federal quality standards, which would be a reversal from the Trump administration.
The incoming administration also is expected to pursue increased nursing home staffing and oversight, and it already has more heavily promoted strengthened home- and community-based services.
Among her other previous posts, Brooks-LaSure has worked for the House Ways and Means Committee, where she established ties with Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (CMS’s parent agency), Xavier Becerra, who was then a congressman.
Past positions also include Deputy Director of Policy and Regulation at CMS and program examiner for the White House Office of Management and Budget, where she was a lead Medicaid analyst.
She earned a master’s in public policy from Georgetown University and, before that, a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
The confirmation hearing for HHS Secretary nominee Becerra is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor & Pensions.