Former CMS chief launches advocacy group

Andy Slavitt, the last administrator of CMS under President Barack Obama, has announced the launch of a new group bringing together former politicians, healthcare executives and regulators to advocate for bipartisan changes in health policy.

The organization, called the United States of Care, aspires to lead the next debate on the U.S. healthcare system, Slavitt said, with “fresh thinking that can unite us in a common goal of putting the health of our nation over politics.”

“It’s founded on the premise that no American should have to go without the care they need,” Slavitt wrote in a USA Today column. “Not defined by any single policy proposal, United States of Care is based on three core principles. We believe all Americans should have access to a regular source of care for themselves and their families; no one should face financial devastation due to illness or injury, and we need to achieve these goals through policies that are fiscally responsible and have the political support to last.”

Other members of the organization include:

  • Businessman and investor Mark Cuban
  • Former HHS Secretary and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt
  • Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota
  • Former Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, R-Tennessee
  • Former CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, MD
  • Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente
  • Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health
  • Rod Hochman, MD, president and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health
  • Tony Tersigni, president and CEO of Ascension
  • Trevor Fetter, former president and CEO of Trevor Fetter

In its first publication, United States of Care commissioned a survey which found as many as nine out of 10 American agree “we must put health care over politics and work together towards a solution.”

“The health of our nation is more important than any political party or partisan victory,” Frist said in a statement. “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.”

The new initiative won’t be directly lobbying Congress, instead focusing initially on a “national listening tour” to gather advice and expertise from stakeholders in the industry and promoting state-level solutions before pursuing changes on a national scale.

The American College of Physicians (ACP), a frequent and vocal critic of healthcare policy under the Trump administration, has lent the new group its support.

“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,” ACP president Jack Ende, MD, said in a statement.