Atul Gawande will step away from his role as chief executive of Haven, the health transformation effort launched by JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon.com, less than two years after agreeing to lead the venture.
Gawande will become chairman of Haven, the group said in a statement. Haven plans a search for a full-time CEO and will be run by Chief Operating Officer Mitch Betses in the meantime. Gawande said in the statement the change will “enable me to devote time to policy and activities addressing the immediate and long-term threats to health and health systems from Covid-19.”
The high-profile venture was launched in 2018 but has had little visible impact. Its stated mission is to use the immense leverage of the three giant employers to “create better outcomes, greater satisfaction, and lower costs for their U.S. employees and families.”
Haven’s announcement sparked fears the employer-led venture could compete with health insurers. But its first plans worked through existing insurance carriers. JPMorgan offered plans to about 30,000 workers in Ohio and Arizona, Bloomberg News reported in November. The Haven plans didn’t subject workers to deductibles and offered incentives for wellness activities to offset medical costs, similar to other corporate health initiatives.
Haven kept its operations under wraps for months, with little public evidence of the ambitious ideas the initial rollout seemed to promise.
Gawande’s move from the CEO role is the latest executive change at the enterprise. Former chief operating officer Jack Stoddard left in 2019 after less than a year in that role. Another executive hire was snared in litigation with UnitedHealth Group’s Optum unit.
On Wednesday, Gawande posted on Twitter about his latest piece for The New Yorker magazine, about how restrictions on work and interaction might be lifted. While he has said little publicly about the plans at Haven since taking the role, he has opined extensively on the U.S. and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a number of posts critical of the Trump administration’s efforts.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month Gawande was in talks about his role at the venture.