Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage, hosted Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar as a keynote speaker today for its 2020 Medicare Advantage Summit. Azar's address, delivered at 9:30 AM ET this morning to an audience of more than 180 virtual registrants from across the health care spectrum, marks his second appearance at Better Medicare Alliance's annual Summit and coincides with the start of Medicare's annual open enrollment season. 

Full video of Secretary Azar's remarks can be found HERE. A partial transcript is provided below: 

On COVID-19:
"These have been unprecedented and challenging times for our health care system and for many older Americans ... The experience of COVID-19 has taught us about the need for a patient-centered healthcare system ... We've used Medicare Advantage to move toward that goal long before this crisis began." 

"Amidst all the pain caused by this pandemic, we've seen how creative and innovative America's health care system can be. I'm grateful for what you've done to help us battle COVID-19." 


On Health Disparities and Social Determinants of Health:
"We've seen in COVID-19 how health disparities ... have put some patients at dramatically higher risk for severe disease. We want to support you in addressing these disparities and health challenges in a holistic way. That has informed our efforts to expand the array of supplemental benefits that MA plans can offer. I know that, as a coalition, all of you have made it a priority to address the social determinants of health. That is an area of great interest for us as well. Addressing costly and debilitating chronic conditions can sometimes be impossible without addressing particular non-health needs. MA allows you to do that in a way that focuses on value, outcomes, and a patient's individual needs." 

On the Success of Medicare Advantage:
"MA continues to become more and more popular, and more and more affordable. Since 2017, the average monthly MA premium has decreased by about 34%. For the 2021 plan year, the average monthly premium will be the lowest it has been since 2007 ... Medicare Advantage is a success story because it allows payers to focus on what really matters to patients: health and outcomes. That focus on health and outcomes rather than procedures and sickness is the ultimate goal of the agenda for value-based transformation that I laid out when I became Secretary in 2018.

On the Telehealth Revolution:
"There is no undoing this revolution. We believe patients will start to see telehealth as a durable and desirable part of their health care experience. The future gold standard of care will integrate both in-person services and telehealth, customized around the patient's needs and their doctor's advice. We've already worked over the past several years to create permanent flexibilities like this in Medicare Advantage ... Expanding telehealth, including in MA, is also part of our broader work to improve rural health ... which has included efforts to improve MA plans' ability to compete for patients in rural areas." 


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Better Medicare Alliance is a community of nearly 500,000 grassroots beneficiary advocates and 147 ally organizations working to improve health care through a strong Medicare Advantage. Learn more at www.bettermedicarealliance.org.

Jonathan Frank
Better Medicare Alliance
2027350676
JFrank@bettermedicarealliance.org