Rep. Terri Sewell hosts CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in fireside chat on health care access

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Terri Sewell and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure Photo Credit: Facebook

On Thursday, Congresswoman Terri Sewell welcomed Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to Birmingham to highlight the Biden Administration’s commitment to expanding access to quality, affordable health care for Alabama families.

The CMS Administrator joined Rep. Sewell for a fireside chat regarding healthcare access for both rural and urban communities at United Way of Central Alabama to connect with people across Alabama’s 7th Congressional District and share with them how the CMS, Congress, and local leaders are working to make healthcare more accessible for Alabamians.

“Thrilled to welcome to Birmingham the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chiquita Brooks-LaSure!” Sewell said on Facebook. “We had a great conversation about the work of Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration to expand health care access and lower prescription drug prices for Alabamians. We made great strides with the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act. I’m committed to building on our historic progress!”

“Alabama needs to expand Medicaid,” Sewell said. “Our rural hospitals are in jeopardy. Aliceville, that hospital closed, and Hale County Hospital is just holding on.”

“We are very concerned about what we are seeing in rural areas across the country,” Brooks-LaSure said.

“A lot of my district are very much dependent. I don’t know the percentage on government healthcare, whether it is Tricare, Medicare, or Medicaid,” Sewell said.

“When I think about CMS and our role right now, over 170 million Americans are covered by our programs, and so it is not a surprise that over so many districts, we are a major force for healthcare. We are very concerned about what we are seeing in rural areas across the country,” Sewell continued. “We have just composed new rules around Medicaid to make sure that people get access to care, not just enrollment, to make sure that payments are adequate to ensure primary care physician participation, including maternal health and mental health.”

“One of the topics that is particularly of urgent concern is maternal mortality,” Sewell said. “The fact is that Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth.”

“Medicaid pays for 65% of the births for Black Women,” Brooks LaSure said. “We cover at least 50% of the total births.”

Brooks-LaSure said that the Biden administration has several initiatives in place to try to address this issue.

Sewell asked about improving access to mental health services.

“We have more work to do with addressing the mental health crisis, particularly with our youth and our seniors,” Brooks-LaSure said.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin welcomed Congresswoman Sewell and Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to last week’s event.

Rep. Sewell is in her seventh term representing Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.

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