WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), who would make history as the first Black woman to lead the agency. This news follows previous announcements of Xavier Becerra, Dr. Vivek Murthy, and other experienced public health champions to lead the country’s health and COVID-19 efforts. After years of Trump administration attacks, the CMS administrator role will be critical to protect and advance sexual and reproductive health care and rights for all people in this country.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“The American people expect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and advance and expand our reproductive rights. Chiquita Brooks-LaSure will be a critical member of the team that gets it done. Because of centuries of systemic racism, homophobia, and transphobia, people who use Medicaid are disproportionately Black, Latino, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Providing them with respect, autonomy in their decision making, and access to the care they need — including sexual and reproductive health care — is crucial to advancing equity in this country. I’m confident that as CMS administrator, Brooks-LaSure will help move us towards that reality.”
CMS is the office within the Department of Health and Human Services that directly oversees Medicaid and Medicare, and implements the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid is a crucial women’s health program. Women comprise the majority of adult Medicaid enrollees, and women of color comprise the majority of women enrolled in Medicaid. Two-thirds of the women covered by Medicaid are in their reproductive years.
Through CMS, the Biden-Harris administration must:
Fully roll back harmful policies from the Trump administration, including by affirming Medicaid patients’ right to access care from providers they know and trust — like Planned Parenthood health centers — and eliminating discriminatory work and cost-sharing requirements that make it harder for enrollees to gain and maintain coverage.
Go beyond stopping harm and start making progress for sexual and reproductive health and rights by incentivizing the remaining states to expand Medicaid, strengthening the safety net provider network, and more.
Help protect people against the physical, emotional, and economic consequences of COVID-19 with comprehensive relief that invests in public health care programs and safety net providers.
Help reckon with systemic racism, injustice, and state-sanctioned violence in this country, including making progress on the Black maternal health crisis through expanding comprehensive Medicaid coverage to 12 months postpartum.
The Biden-Harris administration has already taken some important first steps. In their initial days, they issued an executive order to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), directing HHS to review and consider whether to rescind approvals of harmful Medicaid programs that cut off access to care, setting in motion the process for relevant agencies to start rolling back harmful policies like the Trump administration's birth control rules and more. They recently reaffirmed their commitment to protect patients’ right to choose the provider they know and trust by publicly opposing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s attempt to block Texas Medicaid patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers. They have also taken initial steps toward rescinding discriminatory Medicaid work requirements that have caused thousands to lose health coverage and make it harder for people to access the care they need.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure has a long history of working to expand access to health care as a policy expert and thought leader, and her work will be critical to advancing this mission. She has spent more than two decades honing her health policy expertise and has previously served the nation in the White House, in Congress, and at CMS. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is ready to work with Brooks-LaSure and the entire Biden-Harris team — in the days, weeks, and years ahead — to advance the health and rights of all communities.
Along with a coalition of more than 100 bold, progressive organizations, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda developed “First Priorities for the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice,” a detailed list of executive and agency actions on global and domestic issues that the Planned Parenthood expects the Biden-Harris administration to continue swiftly addressing.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.