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Congressional Health Policy Education Program

Thursday, February 22, 2024, at 12:00pm – 1:00pm EST

Improving Medicare through Medicare Advantage


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Medicare Advantage (MA) has attracted much attention from policymakers as it has become the primary form of Medicare coverage.

Please join us for lunch on February 22nd from 12:00-1:00pm for our upcoming Congressional Health Policy Education Program event in CVC-217. Chick-fil-A lunch will be provided. Please feel free to share this invite with any health care staffer you think would be interested.

Medicare Advantage is the most popular way for seniors to receive Medicare. While MA can be a vehicle for broader Medicare reforms, there are some problems that policymakers can address that would improve the program and reduce costs. In this event, Paragon’s Demetrios Kouzoukas, Joe Albanese, and Theo Merkel will discuss Paragon’s upcoming paper on MA reform and how improving the program can transform the Medicare program as a whole.

Demetrios L. Kouzoukas is the Director of Paragon Health Institute’s Medicare Initiative. From 2017 to 2021, Kouzoukas served as the Chief Executive of the Medicare program at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In that role, he worked with patients, policymakers, providers, insurers, and manufacturers to improve health care in the United States. He developed and operationalized a vision to enhance patient-driven health care nationwide, testifying about it before Congress.

Joe Albanese is the Senior Policy Analyst with Paragon Health Institute. He comes to Paragon with several years of federal and nonprofit public policy experience.

Prior to coming to Paragon, Joe worked as a Program Examiner on the Medicare team at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While at OMB, he provided oversight of the Medicare program’s funding and operations, reviewed regulations and other major administrative actions, and contributed to publications such as the annual President’s Budget for the U.S. Government.

Theo Merkel is the Director of the Private Health Reform Initiative and a Senior Research Fellow for the Paragon Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Previously, Theo served as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council in the White House (2019-2020). In addition to his work in the executive branch, Theo worked for his home state Senator Pat Toomey for a decade, most recently as Legislative Director.