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Wednesday, Aug 22, 2018

Ballad Health joins 16 other leading health systems in national project to transform care for vulnerable populations

Medicaid Transformation Project, co-led by AVIA and former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt of Town Hall Ventures, will develop actionable solutions that address the health and social needs of our nation’s most vulnerable populations


Johnson City, Tenn. – Ballad Health and a group of the nation’s leading health systems are joining forces to identify ways to better care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. The Medicaid Transformation Project is a national effort to transform healthcare and address social determinants of health for the nearly 75 million Americans who rely on Medicaid.

The work will focus on five key areas of opportunity, four of which have already been identified: behavioral health, child and maternal health, substance use disorder and avoidable emergency department visits. Medicaid Transformation Project participants believe that the solutions that help address these key areas of need for Medicaid subscribers will have the added effect of improving care for all vulnerable populations.

Health System Partners: Uniting for Change & Transformation

Ballad Health is joined in the project by 16 of the nation’s most innovative health systems. Collectively, these 17 health systems share a common mission and sense of urgency to create sustainable solutions that improve health for their diverse communities. Together, they span 21 states and comprise 280 hospitals with more than 53,000 inpatient beds and more than $100 billion in combined annual revenues.

“Ballad Health is proud to participate in this project with some of the most innovative thinkers in the nation,” said Alan Levine, executive chairman and CEO of Ballad Health. “We are a new kind of integrated health system, designed to address the most critical needs of residents in Southern Appalachia, a part of the country with serious health and demographic challenges. If we can’t find a way to improve the delivery of services to this vulnerable population, then who can? Finding better, lower cost ways to deliver better health, rather than just healthcare, is critical to the future of our country and the sustainability of our health delivery system.”

The full list of 17 health systems that have committed to transform healthcare by joining the Medicaid Transformation Project includes:

Who’s Involved: Partners Innovating for Change

The group’s efforts will be led by Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of CMS and founder and general partner at Town Hall Ventures, and AVIA, the nation’s leading network for health systems seeking to use digital technology to drive innovation. The AVIA Innovator Network connects 30+ action-oriented health systems across the nation. These health systems trust AVIA to help them identify, implement, and scale the best digital solutions to support their strategic objectives.

Slavitt founded Town Hall Ventures as a venture capital firm devoted to investing in and supporting entrepreneurs who are improving the health of underserved populations.

“The current healthcare system fails the people who need it most,” said Slavitt. “The Medicaid Transformation Project will be part of a decade-long journey leading some of the best health systems in the country. Our work will be to deepen and refine the best innovations and then implement them at an accelerated pace with providers across the country.”

Slavitt, who led health policy, including Medicare and Medicaid, at the federal level in the Obama administration, is joined by Levine, who led health care for two states and successfully passed major Medicaid reform projects under two conservative Governors, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and advised conservative Florida Governor Rick Scott as Chair of his health care transition.  Levine also advised national candidates for Governor on healthcare policy through the Republican Governor’s Association in the 2010 election cycle.  Also joining is Anthony Keck, former director of Medicaid under South Carolina’s Nicki Haley, who currently serves as Ballad Health’s executive vice president for system innovation and chief public health officer.

“Transforming how Medicaid operates is not, and should not be, a partisan issue,” said Levine. “Working with Andy Slavitt and the other provider leaders on this initiative is important, because for Medicaid to best serve the people it is intended to, we must evolve and meet people where they are. The system, as currently designed, was built on a 1960s infrastructure. Today, with technology, we have the opportunity to get beyond the payment system and infrastructure, and identify the true avoidable drivers of cost and poor outcomes. If we are successful, the people we serve will benefit, and so will the taxpayers who are paying the costs. I applaud AVIA and Andy for bringing us all together.”

All parties involved in the Medicaid Transformation Project agree the time to act is now.

  • One in five Americans is covered by Medicaid
  • 50 percent of U.S. births are financed by Medicaid
  • Medicaid is the country’s No. 1 payer for behavioral health services
  • 33 cents of every dollar for a physician’s services are paid by Medicare/Medicaid

The Work Ahead: Scaling Financially Sustainable Solutions

To begin to address the five identified critical challenges, AVIA will work with a core team at each health system to identify and implement solutions. They will share best practices across the network, creating a roadmap for partner organizations to act quickly to create change. The work will feature a Leadership Council, chaired by Slavitt and composed of health system CEOs, to maintain course.

AVIA and Its Team

“We are honored to partner with this powerhouse group of health systems and be an accelerant for the innovative work they’re doing to help vulnerable populations every day,” said AVIA President Linda Finkel. “These health systems are ready to have an even greater impact – by scaling sustainable care models and capabilities that can significantly improve the health of the underserved. And now, thanks to the potential to unlock digital solutions, there’s a stronger business case than ever. We are deeply privileged to be entrusted with leading this meaningful work.”

AVIA has tapped David Smith, formerly of Leavitt Partners, to lead the effort and has partnered with a number of leading Medicaid experts as active participants in the work, including Dr. Molly Coye, former commissioner of health for the state of New Jersey and director of the California Department of Health Services.

“There is an incredible confluence of market and policy activity creating the right conditions to drive profound change for the least fortunate among us. Our health system partners believe that this moment is unique and their leadership can have a seminal impact in catalyzing nationwide energy and focus on the challenges facing our communities,” said Smith.

For more information, please visit

About AVIA

AVIA leads a network of health systems working together to innovate and transform. AVIA Innovator Network members solve pressing challenges with digital solutions that deliver financial and clinical results. AVIA provides strategic focus and a collaborative approach to accelerate innovation.  Learn more at

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