Andy Slavitt's Mystery Healthcare Initiative Revealed

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Over the past month or so, former CMS Administrator and healthcare hero Andy Slavitt has been urging people to fill out a sparsely worded, cryptic online form if they're interested in "making our nation's health care system work better for all Americans."

There are too many agendas that aren’t about making health care work for all Americans. We need to put health care over politics again.

Within a month, a major initiative will be announced that I and many Americans will come together for. If interested... https://t.co/7BBDUS2J8u

— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) January 13, 2018

I filled it out, of course, as did what I presume are thousands of others, but few had any idea what Slavitt specifically had in mind at the time. Today he's gone public with the details:

United States of Care Launches With Aim of Achieving Affordable Care for Every American

  • Amid Federal Gridlock, Organization will Put Health Care Over Politics by Galvanizing Public Opinion and Taking the Conversation to the States
  • A diverse group of more than 50 prominent health care leaders, including Andy Slavitt, Bill Frist M.D., Atul Gawande M.D., Bernard Tyson, Steve Beshear, Cecilia Muñoz, Elena Hung, and Mark McClellan M.D., announce the launch of United States of Care

Minneapolis, MN – Today, a broad group of health care leaders from policy, patient advocate, clinical, business and innovation backgrounds launched United States of Care, a new non-partisan, non-profit organization leading a movement to ensure that every single American has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income.

Approximately 28 million people in the U.S. don’t have health insurance coverage, and even those with coverage can face devastating out-of-pocket costs. At the same time, intractable partisan politics in Washington, D.C. have led to an inability to come together to solve this very real problem. That is why United States of Care will work to put health care over politics and listen to the needs of Americans. Americans shouldn’t be healthy only if they’re lucky enough to afford it, and they shouldn’t have to wait for Washington to figure this out.

“Affordable health care should be available to every American, without exception,” says Andy Slavitt, Board Chair of United States of Care and former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama. “Time and time again, political agendas have wreaked havoc on health care initiatives, with outcomes favoring only certain Americans. 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.”

While health care continues to be seen as a deeply partisan issue in Washington, D.C., a recent survey commissioned by United States of Care indicates a clear majority of highly engaged voters across partisan lines—as many as 9 in ten—agree we must put health care over politics and work together towards a solution.

“In 2018 United States of Care will focus on listening to the needs and experiences of patients and families, as well as perspectives of medical and health care policy experts from across the political spectrum, supporting and developing solutions to improve the wellbeing of everyday Americans,” said United States of Care Executive Director Emily Barson. “Rather than being defined by a single political stance or legislative priority, we will begin work in the states to create real change that can be tested and improved upon and provide support for new ideas, which can become the basis for national models.”

Policies that United States of Care supports will need to meet three principles: every American should have a regular source of affordable care; no American should face financial devastation due to illness or injury; and solutions must be fiscally responsible and have broad political support.

“The health of our nation is more important than any political party or partisan victory,” says Bill Frist, M.D., former Senate Majority Leader and member of the United States of Care Board. “United States of Care will chart a path toward a long-term health care solution, starting by checking allegiances at the door and putting the patient—our citizens—first.”

While United States of Care will focus on bringing expertise to states and federal lawmakers to find economically and politically sustainable ideas, galvanizing support around policies that work for Americans and their families will be the central mission.

United States of Care will begin by launching a national listening tour to hear from stakeholders and developing resources and expertise to deliver real and lasting results. Americans from across the country will be invited to lead the conversation and join the movement by visiting unitedstatesofcare.org.

Over at Bloomberg News, Zach Tracer has the backstory and more details:

Some big names in health care want to fix what they see as a broken system. First, they are mending fences.

...Now, Slavitt is leading a new nonpartisan group of politicians, policy makers, executives and other public figures, called United States of Care, that will push for policy changes based on the idea that despite deep political divisions, Americans want many of the same things when it comes to their health.

“The reality is that there are tons of details that almost everyone agrees on, we just don’t focus on them,” said Slavitt, who will serve as the USC’s chairman. “Public sentiment is fairly well unified in ways that Washington isn’t.”

...The nonprofit includes top hospital executives and former lawmakers, as well as actors Bradley Whitford and Andy Richter, entrepreneur Mark Cuban and physician and writer Atul Gawande. It will seek to advance economically and politically sustainable policies that assure access to affordable care.

It plans to start small, providing support for policy changes at the state level. The aim is to develop and test ideas that could eventually be applied in other states and nationwide. The Obama-era ACA law, which drew on a Massachusetts health-care overhaul under Republican Governor Mitt Romney, is a precedent for such an approach.

Looking for solutions at the state level, and sidestepping what he sees as dysfunction at the federal level, is what helped draw Rod Hochman of Providence St. Joseph Health, which is among the biggest U.S. health systems, to the project.

“There’s a sense of some frustration at the way D.C. is going about it,” he said. “We’re not getting anywhere.”

Mark McClellan, a top health official in the administration of president George W. Bush and director of the Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University, is working with the group and anticipates focusing on curbing costs and improving quality, particularly in state Medicaid programs.

“It’s very hard to have sustainable access to affordable care for people if the cost of health care is so high and rising,” McClellan said. But costs for one party are typically income for another. “There may well be some difficult discussions ahead.”

Slavitt has also posted an Op-Ed launching the new organization at USA Today:

Some are skeptical that we will ever get past the current political stalemate. This will not happen overnight. Our first step is a national listening tour to hear from families and local experts and turn what we learn into real policy changes, beginning at the state level..

America is a global leader in so many aspects of health care, yet millions of Americans still can’t afford to fill prescriptions or get the care they need. Not surprisingly, our national health outcomes are declining.

We can’t sit back and bemoan the politics. If we expect our children and grandchildren to have a future where they can live up to their potential, change jobs without fear, benefit  from the cures which are coming, and not bankrupt themselves or our nation, we must come get together now and put our health ahead of our politics.

The only concern I have over this initiative is that there are already so many other healthcare advocacy groups which have sprouted up over the past year (Save My Care, Protect Our Care, Get America Covered, Health Care Voter, etc.) that it may be difficult for people to distinguish between them....but these organizations have somewhat different missions, mostly focusing on preserving the healthcare protections we already have now, while U.S. of Care is moving on to the next step with solutions for the future.

United States of Care can be followed on Twitter at @usofcare.