After 4 years apart, nearly 900 of health care’s top leaders, health insurance provider professionals, and self-professed policy wonks met together last week in Washington to tackle the most pressing legislative and regulatory issues when it comes to health care. They were joined by 25 government officials, including leaders from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and more.
The main takeaway? While the world of Medicare, Medicaid, dual eligibles, and commercial markets is complex, our shared goals are clear: continue to deliver more affordable health care, keep up the record-setting rate of insured Americans, and address health disparities at every step along the way.
Over the course of 3 days, several top administration voices took to the open stage for a candid discussion on where our shared work will make the most difference in 2023. Here are their highlights.
“300 million Americans today have their own insurance, public or private. We've never seen that in this country. We hit a record number of Americans who are now insured for health care, and we don't want to see that change.”
- HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra
Secretary Becerra opened the conference with a keynote session that highlighted how health insurance providers have been strong partners throughout the public health emergency. He encouraged continuing that spirit of partnership in strengthening a nationwide approach to reducing health disparities, sharing data, and implementing the No Surprises Act.
“All of us I think, got a real lesson over the last couple of years about what it means for our country if we do not address health disparities. It is just very obvious to us all that if you don't take care of the least among us — we're all going to suffer as a result... let's work together. I see so much openness when it comes to health equity… I was so thrilled that the private sector really embraced wanting to partner.”
- CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure
Administrator Brooks-LaSure shared with health insurance provider professionals in the audience that their work, energy, and continued progress solving issues of health equity are being noticed – and that partnership on addressing these problems is an absolute must. She also noted it is critical for health insurance providers and CMS to work together on Medicare Advantage.
“It's so critical to meet people where they are, addressing their health care needs or even incorporating and paying attention to the sort of cultural beliefs or values or worldview that an individual may bring to a care setting.”
- Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, HHS, and Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Delphon-Rittmon discussed several HHS priorities for addressing mental health care needs. She shared stories about working alongside health insurance providers to prevent overdoses and suicides. She also discussed how her agency is focused on health equity measures, particularly using data to reduce disparities.
“Medicare Advantage is a critical part of the Medicare program and plays a very important role in driving that vision that we've been talking about around advancing equity, expanding access to coverage and care, and having high-quality whole person care.”
- Meena Seshamani, Deputy Administrator and Director, CMS
In a presentation on the future of Medicare Advantage, Dr. Seshamani lauded the program, which is now chosen by more than 30 million seniors and people with disabilities, for its many successes. She also emphasized the importance of embedding health equity into quality metrics in the program. Seshamani raised CMS’ guidance on implementing Medicare Part D drug price negotiation, released last week, and stressed that the industry should work closely with providers to ensure successful implementation.
“When people stop thinking about health IT, that means it's working. And we can get on with the kinds of things we want to do to improve quality and efficiency.”
- Micky Tripathi, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, HHS
Tripathi said that when it comes to using technology to create a seamless, standardized experience in health care, the best infrastructure will look and feel invisible. He used examples like Venmo for banks and Expedia for travel to illustrate the future of health care’s digital infrastructure and the work underway. He also provided updates on the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement and efforts to build the necessary infrastructure to support interoperability, such as the National Directory for Healthcare.
"I'm a radical enthusiast for value-based payment.”
- Robert Califf, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, FDA
AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles sat down with Dr. Califf to kick off the final day of the conference. The session covered the future of FDA’s accelerated approval pathway for new drug therapies. Dr. Califf shared a strong affirmation for using value-based care, a method of payment that looks at the health of a whole person rather than line items of care, which has shown to lead to better health outcomes.
Catch up on more key highlights from the conference with #AHIPPolicy on LinkedIn and Twitter, and check back here in April for our slate of on-demand sessions.