Senator Cornyn

Cornyn Pushes Senate to Reject CMS Nominee Over Texas Medicaid Waiver Reversal

May 12, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s nomination to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Biden Administration’s decision to rescind Texas’ 1115 waiver and put the health of low-income and uninsured Texans in jeopardy in an effort to force the state to accept Medicaid expansion. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video can be found here.

“More than four million Texans, including half of the children in my state, depend on the stability of the state’s Medicaid program to provide health care for themselves and their families.”

“Unfortunately, a recent move by the Biden Administration has put the health care of these vulnerable citizens in jeopardy.”

“The previous Administration reached an agreement with the state that will enable billions of dollars to flow to Texans in need. Now, for some reason, the Biden Administration is trying to stop it.”

“But two federal health officials did an unusual thing in Washington, D.C., albeit anonymously. They told the truth. They told the Washington Post that this was done to ‘push state officials toward accepting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.’ Well, it’s pretty bold to admit that this was not about an administrative error at all but about forcing a Medicaid expansion on to the state of Texas.”

“Now the Administration is engaged in a game of political chicken with four million Texans on the line, and the only ones that are getting hurt are the low-income and uninsured Texans whose health care relies on this safety net. This move by the Administration would have been damaging during normal times, but it’s even more damaging after this unprecedented year for our health care providers. In fact, it’s downright reckless.”

“Every other state could find themselves in the same situation as my state in the coming months. Florida was granted a waiver around the same time as Texas. What will happen to vulnerable Floridians? Tennessee is already facing legal challenges to their waiver. Will their providers be in jeopardy, too? North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Idaho? The list of states that could be impacted by this life-or-death game of chicken goes on and on.”

“But because [Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s] nomination can advance, members of the Senate deserve a commitment from the Administration that it won’t try to force the hand of states by putting health care of millions on the line. If we don’t step up now and push back against this reckless move, which state will be next?”

“I’ve asked the Administration to work with Texas to ensure that millions of impacted individuals won’t lose access to health care, but so far there’s been zero progress. The Administration has been unwilling to provide any assurance that an agreement with Texas could be reached before the end of this fiscal year.”

“This sets a dangerous precedent of Administrations undoing agreements negotiated in good faith between the states and the federal government for purely political reasons, and could have cascading consequences across the country.”

“Until Texas can receive a waiver and assurance that this action will be rectified and the rug will not be pulled out from under our poorest patients, I cannot support this nomination.”

“If they’re willing to do this to my state… they will do it to your state and every other state in the country.”