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The man who helped save wants a bipartisan solution to health care

Andy Slavitt speaks at a news conference at the Treasury Department on June 22. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Andy Slavitt, who helped rescue the website after its botched roll out in fall 2013 and became a top health-care official in the Obama administration, is launching a new effort to bring bipartisanship back to health-care restructuring.

He knows it might take a while to catch on.

Slavitt, who served as acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Services, will be affiliating with the Bipartisan Policy Center, which has worked on health-care issues for a decade. The goal, Slavitt explained in an interview Wednesday, is to find “a policy platform that will connect the real world and Washington, D.C.”

Slavitt will be a senior adviser to BPC. Natalie Davis, who served as his senior adviser during his time at CMS, will serve as director of strategic engagement there. They will join with others affiliated with the BPC — including Gail Wilensky, who headed a predecessor agency to Medicare& Medicaid Services under George H.W. Bush — to solicit input from different players in the health-care system and influence public policy.

BPC’s Health Project has been led by former Senate majority leaders Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Avik Roy, the president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity who served as a health policy adviser to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, is also a participant.

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Davis is based in Washington; Slavitt lives in Minneapolis and will do outside consulting as well.

“We will continue to go retail,” he said, aiming to solicit the input of governors, medical leaders and state health officials. “There will hopefully come a time when policy people in D.C. look to voices like that. I don’t think that time is today.”

“Nobody I know really cares whether we call it Obamacare or Trumpcare or Ryancare, and quite frankly, we’ll end up in a better world when we call it none of those things,” said Slavitt, who worked for UnitedHealthcare for a decade before joining the previous administration. “It wasn’t great for Democrats to be the only ones owning coverage reform. Republicans are finding out it isn’t great either. Everybody can own this together, because there will inevitably be challenges.”

In a statement, Wilensky said Republicans and Democrats could benefit from collaborating on the issue.

“I have always appreciated the role BPC has played in bringing together leading experts from all parties to work on the tough issues our nation faces,” she said.” Open and thoughtful dialogue is key to finding solutions to these issues.”