Andy Slavitt, the former UnitedHealth Group executive who led implementation the federal health law during the Obama administration, is launching Tuesday a nonprofit that aspires to find consensus on health policy changes.
Called the United States of Care, the nonprofit won't do any lobbying, Slavitt said, but will focus on policy and grassroots work to promote access to affordable care in ways that can be backed by most Americans.
The nonprofit will be co-headquartered in Washington D.C. and Minnesota, with Slavitt serving as board chair. The group is looking at space for an office in Minneapolis, and expects to employ in its first year 12 to 15 people across the two locations.
Sometime in the next decade or so, policymakers likely will make another stab at health care changes, so the new group wants to spell out goals that most Americans can agree on in the meantime, said Slavitt, an Edina resident.
"People around health care are concerned that if we wait for Washington to fix things, we're point to end up with either a solution that is only backed by one party or we'll remain in a volatile situation," he said in an interview.
Slavitt was acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the massive federal agency that's been responsible for making changes under the federal Affordable Care Act. The law was passed without any support from Republicans.
Former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn., is on the new nonprofit's board of directors. Dr. Penny Wheeler, the chief executive of Minneapolis-based Allina Health System, is one of dozens of health care leaders listed as founding council members at the nonprofit.
Slavitt says the nonprofit supports three key principles: All Americans should have an affordable regular source of care; they should be protected from financial devastation due to injury; and system changes must be fiscally responsible while enjoying broad political support.
"Time and time again, political agendas have wreaked havoc on health care initiatives, with outcomes favoring only certain Americans," Slavitt said in a statement. "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."
Beyond leading the new nonprofit, Slavitt says he is creating an investment fund to back early-stage health care firms developing innovations for low-income, low-access and high-need communities. The company's first investment was an undisclosed sum for Cityblock Health, which is developing a personalized health system for people in the Medicaid and Medicare health insurance programs.
During his time at UnitedHealth Group, Slavitt led a high-profile rescue of the federal government's HealthCare.gov website following its troubled launch in 2013.