Today, the Nashville Health Care Council hosted former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) acting administrator and senior advisor of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Andy Slavitt, as part of its Trends and Influencers series. With U.S. Senator Bill Frist, M.D. as moderator, more than 200 Council members had the opportunity to hear about the state of the Graham-Cassidy bill, bipartisan efforts in D.C. and what role Nashville can play in health care policy discussions.
View event photos on Flickr.
Photo credit: (c) 2017, Donn Jones.
As former CMS acting administrator, Slavitt served in public office under the Obama Administration when health care underwent a massive overhaul. Slavitt began the conversation by applauding Nashville for all they have done for Medicaid and Medicare patients, and the industry as a whole.
“It’s great to be back in the health care mecca,” said Slavitt.
He and Senator Frist then moved into a discussion around the failed Graham-Cassidy bill that was being pushed by Republicans in the Senate.
“Over the last several years, Republicans have said, ‘let’s put a redline through Obamacare,’” Slavitt told Frist, who is also a BPC senior fellow and co-chair of its Health Project. “To give them credit, there is some coherence in what they’ve put forward. With that being said, coherence isn’t enough.”
The discussion quickly shifted to the need for bipartisan initiatives and what that looks like today. Slavitt explained that conversations need to occur across party lines in order to have a real impact, and these efforts need to be focused on the American people. As an example, Slavitt pointed to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the chairman and ranking chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“On health care policy in 2017, if there is anyone who can be bipartisan, it is Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray,” stated Slavitt. “I have great admiration for them and what they’ve taken on their shoulders.”
He went on to explain it is probably too late for new health care policy to be impactful in 2018, but bipartisan efforts are necessary for 2019 and beyond.
Senator Frist reaffirmed the need for bipartisanship.
“Bipartisanship is fundamental in what we see in policy today,” said Senator Frist. “We need both sides to come together if we are going to improve health care in this country.”
Senator Frist ended the conversation by asking Slavitt how the health care industry in Nashville can help affect change in Washington around these policy decisions.
“This is an incredibly influential group sitting before me today,” said Slavitt. “The things you say carry weight because your companies are working directly with patients every day. We need you to speak out about what’s good for Americans when it comes to health care in this country.”
“Today’s conversation with Andy Slavitt was extremely timely for our members,” said Hayley Hovious, president, Nashville Health Care Council. “We are thankful to be able to offer such opportunities, allowing our members to engage with renowned leaders and have a voice in the national health care conversation.”