Relevant Highlights: Hearing To Consider The Nomination Of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure To Be Administrator For The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services
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This morning, the United States Senate Committee on Finance
questioned Pres. Biden’s nominee, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, for
Administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),
as well as Andrea Palm, the nominee for Deputy Secretary of Health
and Human Services (HHS). CMS oversees and administers
Medicare and Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program
(CHIP), and the programs implemented as a result of the Affordable
- Opening Statements: Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR); Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID); Chiquita Brooks-LaSure; Andrea Palm.
- Priority issues raised in this hearing include: Section 1332
waivers (Affordable Care Act); state innovation for health care
best practices; school-based health clinics and community-based
services; the future of telehealth and telehealth reimbursement
rates; prescription drug pricing and bipartisan drug pricing
legislation; implementation of the No Surprises Act (ending
surprise medical billing); the importance of rural hospitals and
healthcare services; the 340B program; and interest in lowering the
Medicare age of eligibility.
- Chairman Ron Wyden and several other members raised the
question of state innovation in health care (public option, etc.)
and Section 1332 waivers, with respect to CMS’s authority over
guidelines. Ms. Brooks-LaSure said she sees her role as a trusted
partner and wants to make sure that states understand their
options. The pandemic has provided an unexpected opportunity for
experimenting with a variety of different innovations (e.g.
telehealth).She will make it a priority to release guidelines for
state waivers, and focus on lessons learned throughout the COVID-19
- Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and other members emphasized the
importance of telehealth (both over the phone and virtually) for
the future of medicine. Sen. Cantwell signaled that the committee
is starting to look at the permanent implementation of telehealth
in the industry, including the question of reimbursement rates. Ms.
Brooks-LaSure highlighted its success in rural areas and agreed
that reimbursement needs to have safeguards that have yet to be
- Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) raised
the timely issue of drug pricing and discussed the bipartisan work
being done by the committee to lower prescription pricing and cap
out-of-pocket costs. Ms. Brooks La-Sure gave her commitment to work
with the committee and implement such legislation, if passed.
- When questioned about disparities in the 340B health program by
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Ms. Brooks-LaSure stated that that CMS must
partner directly with rural areas and with Indian Health Services
(IHS) to ensure PBMs and manufacturers are not imposing conditions
for reimbursement to the point of dysfunction.
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