Letter From MAHP’s President

Dear Friends:

On behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP), I welcome you to our 2022 Annual Health Policy Conference, Health Care 2022 – Challenges and Opportunities in the Years Ahead. I am excited that after two years, we can be together in person and spend time with friends and colleagues who share a commitment to high-quality, affordable, and equitable health care for our state’s residents.

While we are better equipped as a nation to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks, thanks to coverage and availability of vaccines and therapeutics, the pandemic revealed both new and long-standing challenges for our country and our health care system. Health care costs continued to challenge employers and consumers, while health inequities that existed prior to the pandemic exacerbated the virus’s impact by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Our conference agenda this year shines a light on these challenges and the work that so many are doing to meet them head-on.

This morning, we are truly honored to have both Governor Baker and Secretary Sudders joining us. Their leadership, particularly their work to guide our state through the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extraordinary. Both the Governor and the Secretary will share reflections on the past eight years and offer us their thoughts about what lies ahead as a new administration takes office.

Our keynote address will be delivered by Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm is hailed by CNN as “the infectious disease expert who has been warning us for a decade and a half that the world will face a global pandemic.” As the go-to expert on the public health impact of COVID-19 and a member of President Biden’s advisory board on COVID-19, he will speak about living with COVID-19 and opportunities to improve the public health system in America.

For MAHP and our member plans, increasing health equity is one such opportunity. Individually and collectively through MAHP, our plans are working to identify and address gaps in areas such as telehealth, maternal health, diabetes and breast cancer, with programs designed for targeted populations. In the early months of the pandemic, our board authorized a research study to identify gaps in telehealth usage among Massachusetts residents. This morning, we will hear from Alon Peltz, MD, Assistant Professor of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. Dr. Peltz is the lead researcher of this two-year study –  the most comprehensive of its kind relative to trends in telehealth usage pre-pandemic, during the pandemic and now as we enter a new phase. Dr. Peltz will announce key findings from the report and recommendations to close health equity gaps identified in the delivery of telehealth services.

We will then be joined by a panel of Massachusetts health equity leaders, reacting to the findings and recommendations of Dr. Peltz’s study, and expanding the conversation to include the impacts of social determinants of health on overall health outcomes. We are delighted that Dr. Mallika Marshall, MD, Medical Reporter, WBZ 4, CBS News Boston, will moderate the panel and serve as emcee throughout the conference.

We know that health care cannot truly be equitable unless it is affordable for employers and consumers. Rising health care costs, inflationary pressures and other COVID-related economic issues continue to challenge Massachusetts residents. We will be joined by a panel of experts including Stuart Altman, former chair of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, Robert Berenson, MD, Fellow at the Urban Institute, Maureen Hensley-Quinn, Senior Program Director of Coverage, Cost and Value, at the National Academy for State Health Policy, and Robert Murray, President of Global Health Payment LLC, who will provide an overview of the key cost drivers in our marketplace and offer solutions to constrain continued price growth. The panel will be moderated by John McDonough, Professor of Public Health Practice, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Finally, we are honored to be joined by Governor-elect Healey, who will share with us her vision for the Commonwealth and her priorities for the new administration. On behalf of the MAHP Board of Directors, I pledge our commitment to work closely with Governor-elect Healey on her priorities, including addressing the behavioral health crisis. To that end, MAHP will be releasing a comprehensive report next month on ways to improve the delivery of children’s behavioral health services in the Commonwealth. After interviewing over 25 stakeholders, including parent groups, physicians, children’s behavioral health specialists, advocates, educators, and state officials, the report will highlight the extraordinary efforts to date to address children’s behavioral health needs and provide a framework and recommendations for further meaningful improvement.

In closing, I would like to thank our sponsors for making this annual conference possible, especially our presenting sponsor, Charles River Recovery LLC, and our platinum sponsor, Novo Nordisk. On behalf of the MAHP board and staff, I hope you find MAHP’s 2022 Health Policy Conference informative and thought-provoking, and I thank you for taking the time to join us.

Sincerely,

Lora M. Pellegrini

President and CEO