Cornyn places hold on Biden Medicaid nominee

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is placing a hold on President Biden’s nominee to oversee the agency that regulates Medicare and Medicaid, an apparent sign of the anger from Republicans over the withdrawal of Texas’s Medicaid waiver last week.

Cornyn’s office said Tuesday that he would put up a procedural roadblock to the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

He accused the Biden administration of playing “political chicken” by rescinding federal funds for Texas in a bid to pressure the state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Senator Cornyn placed the hold after the Biden Administration decided to play political chicken with uninsured Texans’ healthcare,” a Cornyn spokesperson said. “He’s requested additional information from the nominee and the Administration about how they plan to ensure our most vulnerable Texans don’t lose their healthcare because of their actions.”

Background: The Biden administration moved last week to rescind a Medicaid waiver given to Texas in the final days of the Trump administration. That waiver extended federal funds that reimburse hospitals for providing care for uninsured people. Advocates of Medicaid expansion have long argued it would make much more sense to give people health insurance in the first place, through Medicaid.

What’s the practical effect? Not much. The maneuver can slow the nomination, not stop it, as long as Democrats have 50 votes.