Biden Administration Taps Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to Lead CMS – On February 19, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If confirmed by the Senate, Brooks-LaSure would be the first Black woman to lead the agency. The full list of the Biden Administration’s HHS selections is available here.
Brooks-LaSure formerly oversaw implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Obama Administration in her role as Deputy Director of CMS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which oversees health insurance markets. Before working in the Obama Administration, Brooks-LaSure served as a professional staff member on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, where she worked with then-Congressman and Committee member Xavier Becerra, whom President Biden has nominated to lead HHS. She also worked as a Medicaid analyst in the Office of Management and Budget. Brooks-LaSure comes to the post having familiarity with President Biden’s team. She co-led then-President-elect Biden’s review team covering HHS. Brooks-LaSure’s nomination has already drawn praise from industry groups, such as the American Hospital Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Among other challenges, Brooks-LaSure will be tasked with leading President Biden’s mission to roll back the Trump Administration’s changes to the ACA, working on Medicaid expansion, and implementing a special enrollment period for uninsured individuals during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
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OIG Updates COVID-19 Administrative Enforcement FAQs Regarding Providers’ Payment Arrangements with a Philanthropic Organization for Vaccine Administrative Services – On February 17, 2021, OIG issued guidance on its COVID-19 Administrative Enforcement FAQ page stating that certain contracts between a philanthropic organization and health care providers present a low risk of abuse where the health care providers pay a philanthropic organization on a per-patient basis for administrative services related to COVID-19 vaccinations. This FAQ, along with all previous FAQs, are available on OIG’s website here.
Under the arrangement addressed in the FAQ response, the philanthropic organization would provide administrative services. These services would include arranging for the physical vaccination sites, data systems, online and web-based scheduling, site development and training, as well as reporting to state agencies. The health care provider would oversee administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and provide certain clinical staffing to administer the vaccine. The health care provider would also bill third party payers, including federal health care programs, for each vaccine and share a portion of the vaccine administration fee for each patient with the philanthropic organization. OIG noted that while similar “per patient” or “per order” payment methodologies can promote overutilization and may violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, this particular arrangement would present a low risk of fraud and abuse given the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 public health crisis.