Slavitt named sec­ond-in-com­mand at CMS

Q2 person of note

Modern Healthcare - - REFORM UPDATE -

An­drew Slavitt has huge re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and chal­lenges ahead as the new sec­ond-in-com­mand at the CMS. Slavitt, 47, was ap­pointed last month by HHS Sec­re­tary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to suc­ceed Jonathan Blum as the agency’s prin­ci­pal deputy ad­min­is­tra­tor. He over­sees day-to-day de­ci­sion­mak­ing re­gard­ing Oba­macare im­ple­men­ta­tion, Medi­care, Med­i­caid, the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram, pay­ment and de­liv­ery re­form, health­care fraud and im­prov­ing health out­comes. Slavitt most re­cently worked as group ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of Op­tum, owned by Unit­edHealth Group. He was one of the ex­ec­u­tives help­ing with the so-called tech surge to fix Health­Care.gov when it was floun­der­ing last fall. Slavitt has an MBA from Har­vard. He served as CEO at Unit­edHealth’s In­genix unit be­fore mov­ing to Op­tum. His ap­point­ment is part of Burwell’s man­age­ment re­struc­tur­ing at the CMS to cre­ate clearer lines of au­thor­ity. Some ob­servers said a lack of clear lead­er­ship con­trib­uted to the botched launch of the fed­eral ex­change and rec­om­mended cre­at­ing a ded­i­cated ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion for an ex­change CEO. Along with ap­point­ing Slavitt, Burwell an­nounced her agency would be re­cruit­ing a CEO and chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer to over­see the fed­eral ex­change. No hires have yet been made. Crit­ics say Slavitt has a con­flict of in­ter­est since he’s com­ing di­rectly from Unit­edHealth and Op­tum. HHS is­sued an ethics waiver July 11 for Slavitt, who will have to re­cuse him­self from mat­ters in­volv­ing Unit­edHealth, in­clud­ing con­tracts and an­a­lyt­ics work from Unit­edHealth sub­sidiary the Lewin Group. Unit­edHealth op­er­ates a large Medi­care Ad­van­tage pro­gram. Sen. Chuck Grass­ley (R-Iowa) ex­pressed skep­ti­cism about Slavitt’s role. “Will the em­ployee po­lice him­self, and if so, how are the re­cusals mean­ing­ful?” he said in a news re­lease. “If he’s al­lowed to work too closely with the same firm that used to cut his pay­check, there are po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est,” wrote Michael Small­berg, an in­ves­ti­ga­tor for the Project on Govern­ment Over­sight, in a blog post. “But if he has to re­cuse him­self from too many agency de­ci­sions, it could limit his ef­fec­tive­ness as a pub­lic ser­vant.” Op­tum owns Qual­ity Soft­ware Ser­vices, one of the con­trac­tors work­ing on Health­Care.gov. Some ex­perts say the firm’s work on the data ser­vices hub and a regis­tra­tion tool called EIDM may have con­trib­uted to the web­site’s prob­lems.

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