Brailer Leads New Venture Capital Firm

Former national health-IT coordinator David Brailer has surfaced as the head of a new private equity firm, backed by a mammoth commitment of cash from America’s largest pension fund.

Brailer late Monday announced the creation of Health Evolution Partners, a San Francisco-based group he is chairman of. While he is not ready to go public with the names of his other partners, he said that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, has committed as much as $700 million to the effort.

At press time, CalPERS, with holdings valued at close to $250 billion, was planning a Tuesday press conference to discuss its investment.

“This is a very capital-intensive business,” Brailer says, in explaining the need for such a large pool of cash. While he reports that other, unspecified pension funds and university endowments have expressed interest in participating as well, Brailer says, “I’m not going to let any people come into the fund for up to a year.”

Health Evolution Partners has not announced any investments of its own, but Brailer says he is targeting September to talk about specifics of the company’s strategy, introduce other senior staff, and perhaps disclose an investment or two. A fact sheet on the company’s Web site indicates that Brailer and his backers are looking for investments in the areas of consumer empowerment, healthcare efficiency and quality improvement, information services, and personalized medicine.

The former national health-IT chief, who left government service in May 2006, says that his new firm is more than a venture-capital operation. “We’re not focused on the new ventures exclusively.”

Brailer, who has a doctorate in economics in addition to his medical degree, says he will devote the bulk of his time to this investment venture for the next several years, but plans to continue serving as vice chairman of the American Health Information Community, a public-private advisory board to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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