Former Medicare chief Andy Slavitt formally launches Town Hall Ventures to invest in healthcare

Town Hall Ventures launches today as the latest venture investment firm to take a stab at transforming the woefully broken U.S. healthcare market through technology.

What Town Hall has that many other firms trying to invest in healthcare technology don’t is a group of founders who have spent time in the trenches of the American healthcare system.

The firm is led by Andy Slavitt, the former administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Service and the group executive vice president of Optum. Joining Slavitt are Trevor Price, the founder of Oxeon Holdings, an executive search and investment firm focused on life sciences, and David Whelan, the managing general partner of Oxeon Ventures — the predecessor to Town Hall.

Basically, it seems like Oxeon’s sort of spinning out its venture operations into a separate fund and has brought on Slavitt as a new top investor to manage things and add his years of knowledge working with the U.S. government’s healthcare system.

“Identifying talented entrepreneurs and helping them through the painstaking process of building a great company is something we are passionate about,” said Trevor Price, in a statement. “We believe we will see more entrepreneurs whose missions are to serve the tens of millions of people whose lives can be improved by innovations that allow them to receive the absolute best quality of care, whether being treated at home and/or in other comfortable and low-cost settings.”

While billions of venture dollars are heading toward the healthcare problem here in the U.S., the problems our system of services faces are so large — 120 million Americans spend around $1.2 trillion on healthcare — that there’s plenty of room for a number of competitors.

Joining the three founding partners are David Mishkin, a former director at Oxeon Partners, who will serve as the firm’s investment director; Natalie Davis, who worked with Slavitt as a senior advisor at CMS; and Lauren Robb, an investment associate who previously worked for Slavitt’s former company, Optum.

“As a nation we have significant healthcare infrastructure serving healthy populations while lower-income communities go underserved, leading to vastly poorer health outcomes,” said Slavitt. “We are at the beginning of a wave of innovation serving Medicare and Medicaid populations. Town Hall is being formed to help lead this massive and necessary shift. The answers are not always traditional; they involve investments in underlying systemic issues as well as innovative approaches that improve people’s health and well-being.”

The firm already has a few interesting investments under its belt — some through the portfolio created by Oxeon Partners.

According to a statement, portfolio companies include:

  • Cityblock Health, Inc., a startup created with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to provide primary care, behavioral health and human services for cities (and an Oxeon portfolio company);
  • Somatus, Inc., which is focused on creating new models of care for chronic kidney patients using technology;
  • Welbe Health, LLC,  a medical and social services provider for seniors who qualify for PACE;
  • Aetion, Inc., an Oxeon portfolio company that sells real-world analytics and evidence to help biopharma companies and payers better understand how drugs work.

The pitch for founders is the staffing network that Town Hall can tap for young companies starting out to tackle huge problems in a massive market, according to executives who have worked with the firm.

“Without Town Hall and the resources and expertise they bring to bear, our goal of transforming care for urban and low-income populations would be moving far slower. In a short time, they have helped us roll out services in our first community, hire a first-class leadership team, and prepare ourselves for the daunting set of challenges that often substantially slow market entry in new health care organizations,” said Iyah Romm, the CEO of Cityblock Health, in a statement. “As a first-time entrepreneur, Town Hall surrounded me with a group of experienced leaders and operators across regulatory, management, fundraising, and technology unparalleled in health care.”