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AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles’ Opening Remarks at the 2023 Medicare, Medicaid, Duals & Commercial Markets Forum


The Opening Remarks from Matt Eyles, AHIP president and CEO, as he kicks off AHIP’s 2023 National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid & Duals

Published Mar 14, 2023 • by AHIP

Welcome. It’s truly wonderful to see everyone here today.

It’s been 4 years since we last gathered for our March conference – formerly known as AHIP Policy. A lot has changed – including the name of our conference. But this gathering is a welcome sign of spring here in the nation’s capital – like the cherry blossoms, Nats spring training, and March Madness.

And just like year’s past, we have a terrific lineup from top to bottom, and I could not be happier to welcome you and officially kick off this year’s conference. We’ve put an amazing program together, exploring the policies that will shape the future of health care coverage, affordability, and access for all Americans.

It’s a great opportunity to engage with leading industry experts who are working to make health care better, more equitable, and more affordable. We’ll focus on the most pressing policy issues and examine the emerging trends shaping Medicare, Medicaid, and programs serving those who are dually eligible – and also address the impact of the end of the public health emergency.

As I mentioned – we’ve been through a lot in the last few years. We’ll also explore the future of employer-provided coverage as well as the individual market. Now more than ever, it’s critical to ensure that health coverage remains strong for every American…because every person deserves access to affordable, comprehensive, high quality coverage and care.

Coverage based on strong public-private partnerships delivered through the private sector and committed to ensuring high-quality service and care for everyone. Our industry has a proud and vitally important, close working relationship with our government partners – as evidenced by some of our featured guests over the next 3 days.

We are delighted to welcome Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra – who will be joining me onstage shortly.

Who better to get us started?

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure will also join us a little later this morning… and a number of her deputies throughout the conference –

Dr. Ellen Montz,
Director for the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight

Dr. Meena Seshamani,
Director for the Center for Medicare

Dan Tsai, Director for the Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services

We are also thrilled to welcome FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf – we have an exciting lineup including many other featured government leaders, and I want to personally thank all of them for joining us.

We come together for the same reason – we care about people and their health and wellbeing - we want the best possible outcome in the personal health journey of all Americans. And the health of the nation is better off because of our strong public-private partnerships.

These partnerships have enabled us to get to historically high rates of coverage and low rates of uninsured – and we should applaud this fact as we continue our work to protect and expand access to affordable high-quality coverage across all segments of the market and all populations.

Our Commitments to Americans

As you all know, one program that has long been an example of a strong public-private partnership is Medicare Advantage.

More than 30 million seniors and people with disabilities have chosen Medicare Advantage – 50% of all Medicare beneficiaries - because it delivers lower costs, more choices, and better coverage than original Medicare.

Choice, competition, and innovation – these are hallmarks of MA.
Enrollees in MA are also more racially and ethnically diverse than those in original Medicare, and MA has also been a tremendous benefit for dual eligible Americans, who are often the most vulnerable patients.

MA plans also provide better and more coordinated care… more comprehensive benefits… and better outcomes. 94% of senior voters are satisfied with their MA coverage, and 93% would recommend it to their family and friends.

In these highly polarized times – where there is a split and disagreement on almost everything – this makes 90+% satisfaction that much more remarkable. Seniors are clear: it is essential to protect and strengthen the program. We remain committed to working with the Administration, Congress, and other policymakers to build on this strong track record of success and improve on what’s working in MA.

Let’s turn to another essential public-private partnership: Medicaid.

Today, 41 states, and including right here in Washington, D.C., have Medicaid managed care organizations as their partners to deliver high-quality coverage and care that is effective, affordable, and accountable to the enrollees they serve, as well as to taxpayers.

And now is the most critical time for that continued partnership and collaboration. States are beginning the redeterminations process for all Medicaid enrollees to verify who is still eligible for the program—this is an unprecedented undertaking involving more than 94 million Americans currently covered by Medicaid.

A recent analysis concluded that, as a result of this process, 18 million people could lose access to Medicaid coverage – and almost 4 million Americans could become uninsured. These are incredibly large statistics that are difficult to fully appreciate in their enormity – but each individual has an important story, is a loved one, a neighbor, or a member of our community, and we must work to ensure to keep the disruption in coverage and care to a minimum.

We have made so much meaningful progress, and we need to do everything we can to avoid an increase in the number of uninsured. Health insurance providers are committed to working with state leaders, federal officials, and other stakeholders and organizations across our health care system. Just last week, AHIP launched the Connecting to Coverage Coalition - a national coalition committed to being a single source of trusted information about the Medicaid redetermination process.

The coalition is also working to convene stakeholders to support information sharing, build on best practices, and develop solutions to ensure Americans are able to enroll in coverage that is right for themselves and their families.

By working together, this new coalition will support a smooth transition back to normal Medicaid eligibility during this unprecedented redetermination process, connect Americans to resources, and help them connect to coverage through other available health insurance.

That is an important step – but it is just one of the many actions that AHIP will take over the coming months to ensure Americans and their families continue to have access to the financial security and peace of mind that health insurance coverage provides.

Access to Affordable, High-Quality Coverage

As we move through 2023, AHIP and our members will continue to support solutions to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, high-quality coverage. This includes continuing to advocate for policies that will allow more people and families to get covered.

A record-breaking 16.3 million people now have coverage through the individual market— both because of the quality choices available in the marketplace and individual market, and the expanded subsidies provided through ARPA.

The enrollment numbers are another great partnership story… reflecting the successful partnership of HHS, health insurance providers, stakeholders, and community partners to educate and enroll more Americans in the individual market than ever before. Health insurance providers will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to improve what’s working in the individual market to deliver high value, effective coverage, and better health outcomes for everyone.

We’ll also keep working to improve employer-provided coverage, which delivers high quality, affordable health care for more than half of the country, almost 180 million Americans. More than 7 out of every 10 Americans with employer-provided coverage are satisfied with their current coverage.

And recent AHIP survey data show that a vast majority people with employer sponsored coverage said their coverage was important to maintaining the health and financial security of themselves and their families during the pandemic.

As we move toward the end of the public health emergency, employer provided coverage will remain just as important. And with respect to redeterminations, more than half of those people who are no longer eligible for Medicaid are expected to transition to employer provided coverage.

We will continue our work to ensure employer provided coverage provides Americans with affordable, comprehensive coverage, and access to the high-quality care they deserve. We’ll also work to ensure that every American has access to mental health services and substance abuse disorder treatment.

Our nation’s mental health is more challenged than at any point in our history – across all age groups, demographics, and geographies. Improving access to quality behavioral health care for all Americans - when and where they need it - is a challenge, particularly among under-represented and underserved communities.

Use of mental health services increased more than 100% over the past decade, and the pandemic increased the need. And more has to be done to respond. Health insurance providers are committed to breaking down the barriers to access to mental health services.

Last year, at the direction of AHIP’s Board and working with experts and leaders from across our industry, we developed a vision and\ detailed roadmap for improved mental health care access for all Americans. This vision included expanding access to telehealth, integrating mental health support into primary care visits, working to expand our health care system’s capacity, and increasing the number of mental health and SUD practitioners in health plan networks, among other solutions.

But let’s be clear: No one health care sector can solve our nation’s mental health challenges alone – and even if funding and resources in our country were unlimited, it wouldn’t solve the immediate challenges we face today. We must work on these problems together – in partnership. At AHIP, we will continue to work on these pressing problems and continue to engage with Congress, the Administration, states, and other partners on new mental health solutions that Americans need now.

Addressing Health Care Prices and Costs

We’ll also work to address affordability - the number one health care issue identified by consumers in nearly all surveys – and focus on delivering a solution that we know works: more competition in our nation’s health care system. Health care prices and costs continue to escalate year after year, putting even greater pressure on businesses, consumers, and taxpayers - making coverage and care less accessible for everyone.

And this phenomenon existed in health care long before our recent broader economic issues with inflation. Now is the time to take action and spur robust competition in health care. AHIP’s Healthier People Through Healthier Markets initiative lays out a roadmap to improve competition based on 4 key commitments.

Improving patient choice.

Protecting patients, consumers, and businesses from overpaying for care.

Improving transparency.

And holding Big Pharma accountable for sky-high drug prices that they alone set and control – and they alone could lower tomorrow. And building on this last point, it also means putting an end to patent games… speeding the availability of biosimilars as much needed competitors to high priced biologics… and stopping abuses from copay cards and charitable constructs that ultimately work for manufacturers’ own financial benefit.

We’re also engaging with government and other stakeholders to advocate for the laws, regulations, and enforcement actions that remove anti-competitive behavior that’s raising health care costs for Americans. We must reduce monopoly behavior from dominant health care systems and distortions by private equity firms, which raise health care costs to squeeze out a higher payments and profits without adding value for patients. And we need to encourage effective – and affordable – ways to deliver care, such as telehealth and home-based care that reward for better patient outcomes. Patients need to come first – and they will.

Improving Health Equity

Another critical priority area health insurance providers have long been, and remain, strongly committed to - improving and advancing health equity as well as removing social barriers to health. And we’re working together to improve our outreach to underserved communities, and to combat social factors that can lead to poorer health conditions. Making investments in communities and community resources that help to address health-related social needs.

Utilizing greater flexibilities for health insurance providers to mitigate social barriers to health to promote more equitable access to care. We support solutions to broaden the diversity of the health care workforce. We are also working to advance improved race and ethnicity data standards and data collection that better allow people to select how they identify. The data are critical - Better data to identify and act on disparities based on race, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

To make meaningful, sustained progress on health equity and enable all individuals to achieve their best possible health, we must all align on this shared goal and work together… in partnership… to move further and faster to the benefit of patients everywhere. So let me briefly close and get right to our first guest… Health insurance providers are champions of care in 2023 and beyond.

As you participate in this conference over the next 3 days, you will hear many stories and best practices from presenters, panelists, sponsors, and exhibitors who are leading the way.

Please be sure to review the agenda.

Participate in all of the great sessions that are of interest.

Visit the Exhibit Hall to explore solutions to better serve your members.

And thank you so our terrific sponsors.

And take what you learn back into your organizations.

Together, we are all committed to…. Guiding Greater Health.