“An arm and a leg”: Obamacare alum Andy Slavitt takes stock of the COVID pandemic – so far


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Andy Slavitt spent much of 2020 talking to almost everyone who knew about the COVID-19 pandemic – and initially sharing what he learned in real time Twitter, then on his pandemic podcast “In the Bubble”.

To make our own podcast episode about what we’ve learned so far and what to expect next, Slavitt was the person to talk to.

For the last few years of the Obama administration, he was a former director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Slavitt shared some of the cost-side realities of vaccines and testing. Then there was an awkward guest-host moment about characterizing his role as the founder of a venture capital firm – before the conversation resumed and he exchanged thoughts on the role of profit and health care.

“We’ve created some of the worst excesses and we can’t get the basic work done.” Health care is not affordable for people, ”said Slavitt.

Given the choice, he said, he would choose a health system that covered everyone, even if it were a little worse than the current system, compared to a system that is very expensive and leaves many people without health care.

“I would say, ‘I’m on the socialist side everywhere,” he said. “However, if you asked me what do I think are the ingredients for a successful health system? I would say it involves innovation.”

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production by Kaiser Health News and Public Road Productions.

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Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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