posted by David Allen
on September 21, 2021
Below please find the Opening Remarks from Matt Eyles, AHIP president and CEO, as he kicks off AHIP’s 2021 National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid & Duals ONLINE.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to AHIP’s National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid & Dual Eligibles Online. I’m Matt Eyles, president and CEO of AHIP.
I’m thrilled we’re all here to explore the future of some of America’s most essential health care programs. Programs based on strong public-private partnerships and committed to ensuring high-quality coverage and care for over 100 million people: Medicare Advantage, Medicaid managed care, and the Dual Eligible programs that serve some of our most seriously ill and low-income seniors.
Health insurance providers know that serving those who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid is a serious commitment. It is a commitment we make not just to our members, but to their families and communities. It is a trust put in us by our state and federal leaders, our health system leaders, and the doctors that serve in them. A trust to provide each and every person in those programs with better service, better access to care, and better value. To walk alongside them in their own personal journey to achieve their best possible health. To understand the barriers that stand in their way, and to provide the tools and connections to help overcome them.
We have all been tested during the COVID-19 crisis, and I’m proud to say our industry’s resolve has never been stronger to take care of the people they serve. And Americans are counting on Congress to continue protecting these valuable programs. As the debate around the reconciliation package continues, Congress should protect the efficient, effective, and popular health care programs that serve so many Americans for their coverage and care.
Our industry’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable Americans has made programs like Medicare Advantage – MA — so popular among seniors and people with disabilities. It’s a prime example of the public and private sectors working together to provide affordable, high-quality health coverage and care to Americans. MA offers Medicare beneficiaries access to comprehensive private health care plans with innovative programs and benefits.
Health insurance providers have continuously worked to improve their Medicare Advantage benefits, to get to know the people they serve deeply to define new ways to deliver care based on its value to improving health.
They have used data and analytics to more deeply understand the health and well-being of Medicare enrollees, going beyond illnesses and chronic conditions to examine the importance of safe housing, food security, and strong communities. They have embraced the connection between physical and mental health and adopted care models that ensure we focus on whole person health. They have made connections within communities and brought in family members to help them be great caregivers. And they have made sure these caregivers are not overlooked in the day-to-day challenges of caring for a sick loved one.
Medicare Advantage plans make a real difference in the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. This is why today, 27 million Americans choose Medicare Advantage over original Medicare for their coverage.
The vast majority of them are highly satisfied with their coverage and the benefits they receive, including coverage for preventive care. Study after study shows that Medicare Advantage plans improve health, even as premiums become more affordable. In fact, premiums have decreased 34% from 2017 to 2021. And Medicare Advantage’s lower out-of-pocket costs make it a preferred choice for low-income Americans – 40% of enrollees make less than $25,000 a year. And Medicare Advantage outperforms original Medicare on 16 out of 16 different clinical quality measures.
MA has also been a tremendous benefit for dual-eligible Americans, who are often the most vulnerable seniors. Dual eligibles enrolled in Medicare Advantage were less likely to experience any COVID-19-related disruptions to their health care compared to duals enrolled in original Medicare. They were also less likely to report that they were unable to get diagnostic or medical screening tests, treatment for ongoing conditions, and urgent care for accidents or illnesses during the pandemic.
Medicaid managed care has been just as essential, creating a public-private partnership between state governments and health insurance providers to ensure affordable, high-quality care for Americans who need it most. As Medicaid and CHIP programs provide coverage and a pathway to care for 1 out of every 5 Americans, Medicaid managed care plans serve two-thirds of them … low-income families, women and children, older adults, people with disabilities, and millions of our veterans.
Medicaid managed care plans work closely with state leaders to ensure that Medicaid works for everyone – for those who depend on it, as well as the hardworking taxpayers who pay for it. These plans deliver real savings through patient-centered care coordination programs, high-quality and accessible provider networks, increased use of generic drugs, and other effective solutions like programs focused on routine and preventive care.
Managed care plans create customized programs for healthier moms and babies … to encourage vaccinations … and to help their members with substance use disorders to overcome their addiction. They work with state and community leaders to offer support services and help enrollees meet challenges in getting care, as well as in accessing housing, transportation, healthy foods, and even heating and cooling systems.
States have selected Medicaid managed care plans as a strategic partner, because managed care works. With more than 77 million Americans – nearly half of which are children – states and plans work together to ensure that they meet very high metrics for quality, value and satisfaction. And as a result, 84% of enrollees say they have regular access to the care they need. Adults and children alike are many times more likely to have a doctor they see regularly, and to get preventive services to stay healthy. And Medicaid managed care offers Americans access to home and community-based services, giving them the freedom to receive care in their home.
More and more Americans are choosing home and community-based services, and Medicaid has been spending more for this service than facility-based care since 2013. The ability to receive care at home is especially important for the dual eligible population, who tend to be older and have more health complications. The results are clear: Medicaid managed care plans increase access to care while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
I want to talk for a minute about the efforts of Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care plans during COVID. The COVID-19 crisis brought into sharp relief the importance of health insurance provider partnerships through Medicare and Medicaid. The examples of commitment are numerous – and the stories, countless.
Waiving costs to ensure everyone had access to testing and treatment. Covering administration fees to provide every American with access to vaccines at no cost. Working together with doctors and hospitals to set up alternative pathways to see patients through telehealth services. Speeding very sick non-COVID patients into safer care sites. And providing food and other services for the hungry and vulnerable.
To this very day, health insurance providers are making announcements every single week about new programs and relief efforts to help Americans protect themselves from the virus, and to ensure their safety and security as our communities rebuild. And industry-wide efforts haven’t slowed.
That includes our Vaccine Community Connectors program, which we at AHIP, together with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and ACAP, were honored to spearhead for the industry. The Vaccine Community Connectors program was launched earlier this year. And after vaccinating more than 2 million seniors in underrepresented communities in less than 100 days – including those in African American and Hispanic communities – health insurance providers continue to work to vaccinate everyone in all communities, especially through Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care plans have long been, and today remain, at the forefront of Vaccine Community Connectors and other important health equity programs. We find that many people are surprised to learn that nearly half of all racial and ethnic minority people who are eligible for Medicare choose Medicare Advantage today. And that the program covers more racially diverse populations than original Medicare.
Both Medicare Advantage and Medicaid enjoy strong support from the American people.
These programs give people the choice to have a plan that works for their needs. They empower Americans. A growing number of people choose Medicare Advantage every year, and the program enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress, even as Congressional support has more than doubled since 2013. And today, 88% of Americans think it is important to have a strong, sustainable Medicaid program.
As Congress continues to work toward reconciliation and a budget for 2022, we at AHIP are working hard to ensure that the value, the high quality, the satisfaction and the support that Medicare Advantage and Medicaid deliver are not forgotten.
The results are demonstrable. Americans have been clear. The people who rely on these essential programs must be protected. And these programs should remain an essential partner for delivering on our shared health goals.
As you participate in this conference over the next four days, you will hear many stories and best practices from presenters, panelists, and exhibitors who are leading the way. I am grateful for their leadership, and their willingness to share their insights for the benefit of Medicare and Medicaid enrollees. Please be sure to review the agenda. Participate in all of the great sessions you can. Visit our exhibitor’s lounges. And take what you learn back into your organizations.
As health insurance providers and champions of care, we are all working every day to provide Americans with the affordable, high-quality health care they need. Together, we are Guiding Greater Health.