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On-demand doctor app Heal has added Obama’s Navy chief to its board

The company wants government experience behind it as it expands beyond California.

Army, Navy And Air Force Secretaries Discuss National Security In Washington
Former U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus
Mark Wilson / Getty

The on-demand doctor app Heal hopes to start sending medical professionals on house calls to a few cities in Florida, New York and Pennsylvania by the end of this year.

But state and local regulators could create headaches for the nascent company at a time when Congress is also eyeing the health care system. That’s an area where Heal now hopes to count on some help from former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who told Recode this week he’s joining the company’s board of directors.

Mabus — who also partnered up with Google’s venture capital firm in March — plans to aide Heal in its efforts to grow outside of California. In the two years since its app launched, Heal estimates it has connected medical professionals and patients in 16,000 house calls.

In looking to expand nationwide, however, Heal may have a lot of explaining to do with health care providers and government officials — an area where Heal CEO Nick Desai said his new board member, Mabus, can “promote and discuss [our] model within the public sector.”

In an interview, Mabus stressed he is “not a lobbyist, [and] I will never be a lobbyist.” At the federal level, at least, Mabus is briefly barred anyway from some lobbying, thanks to the ethics agreement put in place during the Obama administration.

But Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi, acknowledged the potential for some challenges ahead. “As Heal rolls out across the country, we’re going to face different issues in certain jurisdictions,” he explained. “Some are nationwide, like Medicare. But jurisdictions have different regulatory schemes for doctors, and while there’s this umbrella thing that Medicare [and] Medicaid bring to the table, it’s much more individualistic.”


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.