4 Issues Shaping Health Care Policy

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on April 8, 2021

Health care issues remain some of the most pressing for lawmakers in D.C., and around the country. The White House, Congress, and state legislatures all continue to tackle important matters that impact all Americans, such as access to COVID-19 vaccines and lowering the price of prescription drugs.

Some of the policy priorities facing health insurance providers as they work to improve access and affordability include:

1. Recovering from the COVID-19 Crisis

Top of mind for all Americans is our continued recovery from COVID-19, which has devastated families and disrupted every aspect of our lives. Now that vaccines are going into arms around the country, we can begin the work of rebuilding.

Health insurance providers continue to act to help patients and curb the spread of the virus—from supporting our public health heroes, to offering specific policy and regulatory changes. Working together, we have been ensuring access to testing, expanding public health capacity, and taking action to mitigate COVID-19’sprofound economic impacts.

Ensuring access to safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines is a public health imperative because vaccines save lives. Health insurance providers are working with national, state, and local leaders so that every American can quickly access vaccines when they’re available. We know that the free market and government working together can help defeat and overcome the COVID-19 crisis.

2. Employer-Provided Coverage

Employer-provided coverage is a win-win for companies and workers. For employers, providing comprehensive health coverage contributes to a stronger, healthier workforce, and is also a valuable benefit that helps to attract and retain top talent. At the same time, participation in an employer-provided health plan enables employees to protect both their health and financial security.

More than 183 million Americans participate in an employer-provided health plan, making it the single largest source of coverage in the U.S. Many employers provide more than one choice of health plan as well as supplemental benefits including dental and vision insurance, and income protection. It’s no wonder that 75% of survey respondents reported the coverage their company offers had an impact on their decision to accept their job, and 78% reported it has an impact on their decision to stay at their current job.

To ensure that Americans continue to have access to affordable, high-quality care, we need to build on the strength, stability, and success of employer-provided coverage.

2. Medicare Advantage Innovation

Medicare Advantage invests in new, innovative programs to improve how care is delivered, lower the costs of care, and lead to healthy outcomes for patients. Unlike traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage allows adults 65+ and the most vulnerable Americans with disabilities to get vision, dental, hearing, wellness care, and other services without worrying about additional costs. Recognizing the connection between health and lifestyle, Medicare Advantage health plans go beyond traditional medical care to help their members live active and healthy lives.

Medicare Advantage—which serves more than 26 million seniors and people with disabilities—enjoys strong bipartisan support because it reduces costs to taxpayers, and provides more choice and better health outcomes for Americans.

4. Social Barriers Influencing Health

We know  the socioeconomic conditions in which we live, learn, work, and play have a profound impact on people’s health. By addressing these social needs— including inadequate access to nutritious food, lack of affordable housing, inconvenient and inefficient transportation options, limited opportunities for quality education and meaningful employment, limited broadband access, and more—we can help improve the health of individuals and communities.

That’s why health insurance providers are focused on improving social barriers to good health by coordinating housing, employment, education, and food services and supporting other needs like childcare, in addition to traditional health services.

Medicaid has a unique opportunity to address the social risk factors that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations—as the federal-state program providing access to essential health care for over 77 million low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. Two-thirds of those enrollees are served by Medicaid managed care plans, which are committed to working with CMS and state Medicaid agencies to address the underlying root causes of poor health for those most in need.

Changes to health care impact people in a very real and personal way. Hear from health care industry experts, policymakers, academics, and thought leaders at AHIP’s Institute and Expo Online, June 22-24. Register and join the discussion.

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