Good afternoon everyone, and a warm welcome to Portland!
I’m thrilled to be here and kick off AHIP 2023 in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest. And before we kick off, let me express my heartfelt gratitude and just say thank you.
Thank you for being here…and thank you for your unwavering dedication to making high-quality, accessible, and affordable coverage and care for all Americans.
Your care and compassion truly make a difference.
Now let’s take a quick poll. By a show of hands, how many of you are experiencing the vibrant city of Portland for the first time?
You are definitely in for a treat….get ready to be amazed.
As leaders among America’s health insurance providers, you have a commitment to providing every
American with access to high-quality, affordable coverage and health care.
And as your leading advocate in Washington and the states – AHIP stands shoulder to shoulder with you in that commitment.
Together, we are Guiding Greater Health, in everything we do.
This annual conference is AHIP’s signature event – and it brings me immense joy to welcome you here as AHIP’s President & CEO for the sixth time.
Through the years, we have convened in remarkable cities…like San Diego and Austin.
We faced a two-year in-person hiatus due to the pandemic, but we emerged stronger than ever last year in Las Vegas…..and now…we gather in the extraordinary city of Portland!
I take great pride that this healthcare conference is simply a “must attend” event year after year.
It owes its success to a unique mix of esteemed guests, invaluable industry partners, and distinguished attendees representing the entire health care spectrum - and an unparalleled AHIP team behind the scenes.
Truly, it’s the people…and the sharing of ideas…that are the difference makers.
There’s an electric buzz in the air as we collectively embark upon the next two and a half days. And personally, I’m pretty jazzed about what lies ahead.
However, I must admit this moment is tinged with bittersweetness, as it marks the last time that I will have the privilege of inaugurating the festivities.
As I shared a few weeks ago, I’ll be stepping down and “retiring” from the association.
My tenure at AHIP has been an extraordinary journey and the opportunity of a lifetime.
I am grateful for the memories, enduring friendships, enriching conversations, personal and professional growth, and the progress we have made at AHIP.
Thank you….to each and every one of you…for being an integral part of this incredible experience.
And while I might not be onstage to kick off AHIP 2024, you can bet it will still be the best show in healthcare.
As we gather here in Portland, health care is once again top of mind in the national conversation.
Here’s a quick fact—Portland ranks 7th among the top 50 cities for the highest rate of people with health insurance coverage—over 94%
But the underlying costs of health care continue to rise, placing a financial strain on Portlanders and all Americans.
Sky-rocketing prescription drug prices are forcing millions of Americans to make impossible choices between paying for medications and basic necessities.
Hospital consolidation is further exacerbating the situation by increasing prices without improving quality….impacting Americans’ health and financial security.
Now is the time to take action…to advance real solutions.
And that is what the AHIP 2023 agenda is designed to empower you to do.
It’s an opportunity to lean into the new innovations and ideas that are impacting health care.
AHIP joins with you and other health care leaders to improve affordability, access, and value for everyone.
Allow me to provide a couple of examples.
First, our work in Medicaid.
As you know, we are at the lowest rate of uninsured in our nation’s history—8%.
This is progress that we must maintain…given the stakes.
But Medicaid has entered an unprecedented time as states begin the process of redetermining the eligibility of millions of Medicaid enrollees following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Health insurance providers are dedicated to ensuring that Americans have the information they need to renew their Medicaid coverage, or when necessary, transition to comprehensive coverage options, whether it’s through their employer, the ACA marketplace or other sources.
This March, AHIP spearheaded the launch of the Connecting to Coverage Coalition…a coalition that is committed to serving as a single source of trusted information about the Medicaid redetermination process.
We are proud to have been joined in this important mission by a veritable “who’s who” of national organizations, including Unidos US, The Arc of the United States, Mental Health America, and the Federation of American Hospitals.
The coalition is continuously providing updated resources to policymakers and Americans in real-time, enabling them to have access to the latest information.
Second, our commitment to improving health equity.
We all know that health equity is one of the most pressing issues facing our communities.
That is why AHIP is proud to be among the founders of the Rise to Health Coalition, which is working to improve equity and justice within the health ecosystem.
AHIP eagerly anticipates bringing together our combined strengths to address health care disparities; remove social barriers to good health; and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To that end, we look forward to sharing news about AHIP’s leadership to expand our industry’s health equity platform and efforts to make progress faster at scale…..
Here’s one final example – instilling trust.
AHIP deeply understands our commitment and responsibility to help restore trust to our health care system.
That is why we are thrilled to become part of the Coalition for Trust in Health and Science, which is dedicated to curbing health care disinformation.
We are honored to have Coalition-founder and longtime friend of AHIP, Dr. Reed Tuckson joining us this week to discuss these vitally important topics.
These examples represent just a fraction of the critical work that we at AHIP, and health insurance providers, are engaged in.
But there is still much to be done.
As you see from our extensive…and dare I say…captivating agenda and speakers, there are countless opportunities and bold ideas for how we can improve health and healthcare.
These ideas are scalable…sustainable….and have the power to make a tangible difference for patients and consumers.
Health insurance providers are clear: Every American deserves affordable coverage and high-quality care.
We are fully committed to delivering on this promise with more choices, better quality, and lower costs.
It’s an essential commitment that lies at the core of our mission: to help people recover when they’re sick and stay healthy when they are well.
When individuals thrive, we all benefit.
Simply, when people do better, we all do.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with four seniors to discuss their health care experience in Medicare Advantage as part of AHIP’s podcast, The Next Big Thing in Health.
It served as a powerful and poignant reminder of why we do what we do.
They shared their health care challenges…but more importantly…they highlighted the peace of mind they get from their health coverage and the compassionate care they receive.
I vividly recall one of the seniors telling me about how he was able to receive a crucial COVID test through his health coverage during the height of the pandemic.
This story exemplifies our central mission: delivering coverage and services to help take care of people.
As Lewis Carol wisely stated, “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing….is what we do for others.”
Health insurance providers are indeed champions of care in 2023 and beyond.
Over the next 3 days, you’re in for an extraordinary experience, filled with insightful keynotes, panels, sponsors, and exhibitors.
I encourage you to dive into the agenda.
Be an active participant in all the great sessions you can.
Explore the Exhibit Hall and the innovative solutions to better serve your members…and we thank our sponsors for their tremendous support of AHIP.
Finally, take what you learn back into your own organization and put it to good use.
Now, on with the show.