Brooks-LaSure speaking at Georgetown
Category: Alumni News, Discovery & Impact, General News

Title: CMS Administrator Brooks La-Sure on the importance of health equity and putting people first

Date Published: October 25, 2021
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Mackenzie Loy, Maria Cancian
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure (MPP’99), Mackenzie Loy (MPP/MBA‘22), Dean Maria Cancian

From the Hilltop to the Hill and beyond

Administrator Brooks-LaSure brings decades of experience from her previous work in the federal government, on Capitol Hill and in the private sector. 

“Her path from the Hilltop to CMS shows current and prospective McCourt students just what’s possible once you graduate,” said Whittington Scholar Mackenzie Loy (MPP/MBA‘22).

“I came to Georgetown because I wanted to go to a school where I would learn from incredible professors who worked in the space,” said the Administrator, whose aspiration to work in DC began at 12 years old.  

During the Bush Administration, Brooks-LaSure was responsible for the budget of a newly established program providing coverage for uninsured children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). After September 11th, the Administration turned its attention to providing coverage to uninsured workers who lost their jobs amidst the fallout. 

“I look back on that time,” she said, “and think about how that and the Affordable Care Act, which I’ve spent the last 12 years focused on, were both born out of a very difficult time. I think we are at a similar inflection point in health care policy right now. COVID-19 has exposed the cracks in our health care system in such a profound way.” 

Protecting America’s most vulnerable

Brooks-LaSure leads CMS at a critical time for public health and policy, as the country faces concurrent health, social, economic and climate crises. 

“The stakes are even higher for the agency and her role as we climb out of the pandemic and consider what an equitable post-pandemic recovery looks like,” said Loy.

Brooks-LaSure underscored CMS’s focus on what they can do to seize this moment and their continued commitment to breaking down barriers to care and lifting up underserved communities. To accomplish this, she and her team are asking tough questions and bringing a health equity lens to every conversation, whether it’s a policy or operational discussion. 

To address many of the inequities that persist in our health care system, the CMS team is also driving innovation in data collection and measurement to ensure disparities are recorded and addressed.

“We surprisingly have a lack of data about so many questions that are critical,” said the Administrator. “It’s so important that we know which direction we’re headed, that we’re measuring it, to have any hope to close these gaps.” 

Fostering an inclusive workplace to build a better world

Having worked across CMS’s various programs, Brooks-LaSure brings a unique perspective and synergy to the work being done across teams at the agency. She gives her team the space to challenge her opinions and firmly believes that a broader perspective leads to better decision making.

Brooks-LaSure is also setting boundaries for herself as a working mother and building a culture at CMS that encourages employees to value their work and personal obligations.

“Having a supportive and inclusive environment produces better policy and better operations,” said Brooks-LaSure. 

“I go out of my way to model the types of behaviors that I think are important, so that people feel our environment is one where we care about people as people, not just as workers.”