February 7, 2018

Andy Slavitt just launched a health care advocacy group—here are the details

Daily Briefing

    Former acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt on Tuesday launched a nonprofit group that aims to promote access to affordable health care.

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    Slavitt, who led CMS under former President Barack Obama, said the group, called the United States of Care, will support three principles:

    • That all U.S. residents should have an affordable, regular source of care;
    • That all U.S. residents should be protected from financial ruin because of an injury or illness; and
    • That changes made to the U.S. health system must be fiscally responsible and have widespread political support.

    The group will not lobby lawmakers, and instead will focus on grassroots and policy work that promotes goals upon which most U.S. residents agree. Slavitt said, "Time and time again, political agendas have wreaked havoc on health care initiatives, with outcomes favoring only certain Americans." He continued, "It's time to put the past behind us and move forward and engage in a dialogue with people across the country to find sustainable solutions that work for everyone."

    According to Bloomberg, the group first will focus on developing and testing state-level policy changes that could be used in other states, as well as on a national scale. Mark McClellan, who led both CMS administrator and FDA under former President George W. Bush, said he thinks the organization will look to address rising health care costs while also improving quality, particularly in Medicaid. "It's very hard to have sustainable access to affordable care for people if the cost of health care is so high and rising," he said.

    Slavitt said he will serve as United States of Care's board chair. Other individuals who will serve on the board are:

    • Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D);
    • Kristie Canegallo, former deputy White House chief of staff under Obama;
    • Former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R);
    • Former Sen. David Durenberger (R-Minn.);
    • Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.);
    • Providence St. Joseph EVP of Population Health Rhonda Medows.

    The group's founding council members include:

    • Kais Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman;
    • BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina CEO Patrick Conway;
    • Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.);
    • Dignity Health President and CEO Lloyd Dean;
    • Former Tenet Healthcare CEO Trevor Fetter;
    • Surgeon and public health researcher Atul Gawande;
    • Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.);
    • Trinity Health CEO Richard Gilfillan;
    • Providence St. Joseph Health President and CEO Rod Hochman;
    • Former HHS Secretary and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R);
    • McClellan;
    • Families USA Chair Emeritus Ron Pollack;
    • Tucson Medical Center President and CEO Judy Rich;
    • Montefiore Medical Center President and CEO Steve Safyer;
    • Ascension President and CEO Tony Tersigni;
    • Partners Healthcare President and CEO David Torchiana;
    • Kaiser Permanente President and CEO Bernard Tyson; and
    • Allina Health System CEO Penny Wheeler.

    Reaction

    American College of Physicians President Jack Ende in a statement praised United States of Care's focus, saying, "We concur with the urgent need for the implementation of health policy programs that work towards expanding access while stemming health care spending, rather than pursuing divisive solutions that limit care and fail to address the very real barriers to access, including the high cost of care" (Snowbeck, "Inside Track," Star Tribune, 2/6; Tracer, Bloomberg, 2/6; Gregory, HealtExec, 2/6; United States of Care website, accessed 2/7).

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