How are lawmakers thinking about the state of health insurance and the future of government health care programs like Medicare and Medicare Advantage? Congressional outlet Punchbowl News and AHIP partnered to host a frank and timely discussion last week, featuring Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Former Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas; Sohini Gupta, AHIP executive vice president of government affairs and innovations; and moderator Anna Palmer, founder and CEO of Punchbowl News.
Here are several top snippets you missed.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
“And I do think it's still important that we continue on that path to get seniors choices at the end of the day. That's what this is about. This one is about how to ensure our seniors have choices when it comes to — if we're talking health care — their health care, and make sure that in that choice it's affordable, that there's quality health care and access.”
“"I will say this for purposes of Medicare Advantage, and I'm a big fan of it and I'm a supporter of it…”
“So the goal is: how do we make those choices available, but how do we keep Medicare solvent?”
“Let me say I think telehealth medicine — I'm a big fan of it — is a fast forward to not only to have any pre-pandemic but to extend that sentence. Here's why. There are two urban areas, as I said in Nevada, the rest are pretty much rural frontier. Telehealth works both... that's why you will see a lot of my legislation — by the way there is bipartisan support for this — is to continue to support telehealth telemedicine.”
Former Representative Kevin Brady, R-Texas
“Serving on the Ways and Means committee, we established Medicare Advantage in 2003. Our belief was, like today, people recognize personalized medicine is really the future of medicine. Back then our thinking was: we allow seniors to sort of personalize their Medicare, choosing the plans that were right for them and tailored to them, giving them those extra wellness, preventative, you know, eyes and ears and dental help. Coordinating that care, because Medicare is so complicated, it just is. And then, giving them an out-of-pocket cap so there’s peace of mind. We believe if we did that, we could keep them healthier, they would spend less time in hospitals and nursing homes, more days living their life. And that's exactly what's happened… But as it has proven itself out a lot of seniors are choosing it, a lot of seniors of color are choosing it, and it's fully grown, I think, into stronger bipartisan support.”
“Medicare Advantage keeps seniors healthy. In parts of that model, the wellness, the prevention, and coordination can help Medicare survive longer be that really important program.”
“Set the goal. I think 2031 is not just about extending Medicare. It’s about improving it.”
Sohini Gupta, AHIP Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Innovations
“32 million Americans are on Medicare Advantage. What that means is, for the first time you're seeing more people choose Medicare Advantage over original Medicare. And so, they're doing this because they're getting more services, better access, and more quality options. And so we're very excited about that. But we're also able to do this while saving money.”
“We have a new study that came out from Avalere that indicates that if original Medicare used the same practices as Medicare Advantage, we would extend the trust fund 17 more years. So to 2048, which sounds a lot better. So we are able to save money — utilization doesn't always equal better outcomes. You can do more and save money. We layer on top of that study that shows that we can extend the trust fund, a new study from Harvard, that we sent out that talks about quality. Medicare Advantage also has higher quality than original Medicare. We're doing it better for less.”
“I will say that the program is designed [for] and popular among minorities that tend to be underserved. You've got 30% of individuals that come from incomes less than $25,000 a year, you have 37% that are going to age 70. People are getting older, they're understanding that they need that coordinated care in those high-touch environments. You can additionally have more women on Medicare Advantage than men. We are seeing a diverse group.”
“We talked about the trust fund side, but if you do an apples-to-apples comparison, the data will show that original Medicare actually costs [almost] 9% more than Medicare Advantage. There's a lot of information circulating out there, how you slice and dice the data. You know, we always want the numbers that matter. But I think we need to really take a hard look at the assessment that we're making and really dive deep and take the time to know that Medicare Advantage is saving money and does not cost more than original Medicare.”
Want more insights? Click here to watch the full conversation on YouTube.
Click here to learn about the Avalere study on Medicare solvency.
Click here to learn about the Harvard-Inovalon Medicare study on quality outcomes.
Click here to read more AHIP resources on Medicare Advantage.