Health care systems and governments at all levels are grappling with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health care costs are rising, the population as a whole is aging, and the country is becoming more and more economically and politically polarized. For 12 years, AcademyHealth’s National Health Policy Conference (NHPC) has brought together some of the brightest minds in health care policy and research to discuss and debate the nation’s most pressing health care issues. The 2012 NHPC kicked off this morning with AcademyHealth President and CEO Lisa Simpson addressing an audience of more than 700 representatives from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

“This conference provides a critical first look at the nation’s health policy agenda for the coming year. And in 2012, it looks like we have a lot to cover,” said Simpson.
Providing the administration perspective was Jeanne Lambrew, who led HHS’s Office of Health Reform during the Obama administration’s push to develop and pass the Affordable Care Act. Lambrew currently serves in the White House as deputy assistant to the president for health policy. Lambrew reviewed the goals and progress of the Affordable Care Act thus far, and stressed that the administration is fully committed to working with all states to ensure that they have the resources needed to launch the insurance exchanges in 2014.
"The work is ongoing and the work is intense...We are comitted to making sure that every American, no matter where they live, has access to the exchanges," said Lambrew.
Lambrew also talked about the successes of the CMS Innovation Center, saying that she's "thrilled with the level of involvement and interest" in the Center and its work. As she rushed back to the White House for final preparations in advance of  today's release of the president's budget, she offered encouragement to the researchers in the room, saying that "facts matter" as her office considers policy decisions. We will be covering the NHPC here and on Twitter for the next two days. The agenda will explore the policy issues that continue to be high priority for 2012—exchanges, managed care, Medicaid/Medicare dual eligibles, and more. It will also bring to the table new topics that should and will be part of the national health care conversation, including the impact of legal challenges to the ACA, issues facing the DoD and VA health care system, as well as the relationships between health policy, the financial industry, and the media. View the complete conference agenda on our website.  
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