Insights from AHIP: Health equity is here to stay

Everyone from CMS administrators to state Medicaid plan managers to executives at major payers has health equity on the brain. That theme came across loud and clear at this year’s National Conference on Medicare, Medicaid & Dual Eligibles, presented by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

The virtual conference, which wrapped last week, provided attendees with a snapshot of key priorities for the year. Here are a few:

  • Preventing a renewal crisis. Once the public health emergency provisions end, every state will need to figure out its member eligibility strategy, and everyone in the Medicaid ecosystem will be on the hook to keep members from falling through the cracks. The worst possible outcome would be to sever millions of people from their care. Partners can start preparing for this now.
  • Plans need to think big. States want plans to come with best practices they've seen work across markets. They want plan leaders to offer creative solutions with proven results.

Health plans should come to the table with ideas, policy suggestions and solutions — we will be able to receive those ideas with open arms." - Kate Massey, Senior Deputy Director, Medical Services Administration and Medicaid Department, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

  • Health equity isn't going away. In fact, it came up at nearly every single AHIP session. That means every solution, every strategy should have health equity baked in — it’s no longer a “nice to have,” it’s foundational.

“Equity is a core component underlying everything we’re doing at Medicaid and CHIP. We want to think about how the Medicaid program can actively reduce health inequities across a range of different dimensions.” - Daniel Tsai, Deputy Administrator and Director of Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. 

  • Data matters. State officials are looking for partners with smart ideas about not only capturing member data, but using it to improve health outcomes. Partners who can synthesize member data to generate new services, improve access and address equity will bring tremendous value.
  • States are broadening their definition of value. State officials are open to services that actually work — there seems to be an understanding that while Medicaid services must be cost-efficient, Medicaid can't just be a cost-containment program. Directors are asking the MCOs to consider more than the bottom line:

"There are areas in Medicaid where there's not a lot of money to be made, but this is about people's lives. Everybody that you serve, this is their life. Even if you have to go the extra mile, be your best self." - Dave Richard, Deputy Secretary, Medicaid, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

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