François de Brantes axed by Altarum

François de Brantes, whose payment reform organization merged with the Altarum institute about a year ago, has been fired. His last day was Friday.

An email from Altarum’s president and CEO, Lincoln Smith, that circulated at the institute, said he had “tremendous respect” for de Brantes but after a reorganization “we have reached an impasse regarding his executive role.” Altarum is a health care research and consulting organization.

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In a phone interview on Monday, de Brantes said “there was no smoking gun” and that “organizations have a right to define their strategy.”

A spokesperson for Altarum emailed late Monday night that “we cannot comment on personnel matters” but confirmed that de Brantes is no longer employed by the institute.

De Brantes said he hadn’t expected to be fired and that “it is never pleasant when it happens to you.” He said he can’t discuss whether he got a severance package.

De Brantes’s title at Altarum was vice president and director of the Center for Payment Innovation. De Brantes said he led a group of about 20 people at institute and that he was the only one who had been dismissed. By Monday afternoon, any mention of de Brantes had been scrubbed from the Altarum website.

De Brantes is well known in health care policy circles, particularly among those who work on payment reform, incentives, and care and benefit design. He is often quoted in the media and participates in panel discussions, has a long list of publications, and is a thought leader for NEJM Catalyst.

De Brantes was executive director of the not-for-profit Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) for 12 years before it became part of Altarum early last year. As head of HCI3, de Brantes was a strong advocate for bundled payments.

The Jan. 3, 2017, press release announcing the merger of HCI3 and Altarum included effusive statements from Smith and de Brantes. “Our opportunities for positively impacting the industry are vastly expanded by becoming a part of Altarum,” de Brantes was quoted as saying. “What we could only dream of can now become a reality, and the entire HCI3 team is excited and energized to join Altarum.”

On Monday, de Brantes said he was still committed to trying to improve the quality of health care by reforming the “flow of money into the system. I have no intention of stopping.”