The disappearing ACA insurance market - Axios
Featured

The disappearing ACA insurance market

We've all heard about the insurers that are pulling out of Affordable Care Act marketplaces, but sometimes you have to see it to really get it. This map is based on data from the Kaiser Family Foundation for the first four years of the ACA marketplaces. You can really see the difference in 2017, when high-profile insurance exits left 21 percent of all ACA customers with only one insurer in their area.

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Map: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

For context: This doesn't even count 2018, when there could be as many as 47 counties with no insurer at all. We'll have a better idea after this week's filing deadline, of course.

Why it matters: There are definite signs that the Trump administration's opposition to the ACA is hurting the marketplace for next year, as we wrote on Friday. But it's important to remember what was happening before the administration ever took office.

Featured

Alt-social network raises $1 million amid Silicon Valley crackdown

Twitter

Gab, a so-called "free-speech social network" that's been rejected on app stores, has raised $1 million in crowdsourced funds amid a Silicon Valley crackdown on white nationalist content and accounts. The platform announced its fundraising milestone with a tweet that slammed "Silicon Valley elitist trash." The site claims to be politically neutral, but was started by a pro-Trump Silicon Valley executive, according to Venture Beat. Its avatar is a green frog that resembles the frog "Pepe" that is a symbol of the alt-right movement.

Why it matters: The alt-right movement in the U.S. has been leveraging social media to organize. Large fundraising efforts for the platform shows that the movement's momentum hasn't slowed down, despite efforts to stamp it out.

Featured

5 presumed Barcelona terrorists shot dead to stop second attack

Police officers stand next to the van involved on an attack in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 (Manu Fernandez / AP)

Spanish police said Friday (local time) that five people presumed to be terrorists involved with the Barcelona attack have been shot dead in Cambrils, south of the Catalan capital, in an effort to prevent a second attempted attack, per the BBC.

Go deeper: Read more about the Barcelona attack here.

This post has been updated to reflect that the fifth suspect who was shot, and initially reported injured, has died.

Featured

McConnell supports Flake hours after Trump calls him "toxic"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has his "full support" ahead of his reelection bid next year, according to an official McConnell Twitter account:

  • Timing: Earlier today, Trump tweeted, "Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!"
  • Context: Flake opposed Trump during his presidential campaign and in his recent book, "The Conscience of a Conservative," Flake sharply criticized Trump and condemned his party for enabling Trump's rise to the presidency.
  • Why it matters: McConnell, who was reportedly livid with the way the president handled the violence in Charlottesville, has been engaged in an ongoing feud with Trump following the president's series of tweets criticizing the Majority Leader's performance. McConnell's latest statement in support of Flake only adds fuel to the fire.
Featured

White House calls it quits on Infrastructure Council

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The White House called it quits Thursday on a council that was expected to advise President Trump on how to best improve U.S. infrastructure, acknowledging that participation in the council could subject members to intense criticism given the controversy surrounding Trump's handling of the Charlottesville, Virginia attacks, per the WSJ.

  • Why it matters: It's Infrastructure Week. And it suggests the Charlottesville fallout is having larger implications.
  • The announcement: "The President's Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, will not move forward," a White House official said Thursday.
  • Timing: The move comes just one day after Trump abruptly shut down his two key groups of outside business advisers.
  • Bad optics: Canceling an infrastructure council the same week that the White House is supposed to be pushing its infrastructure agenda is only intensifying what has already been a tough week for the administration.

Featured

Sen. Corker calls for "radical changes" at the White House

Erik Schelzig / AP

Sen. Bob Corker, who has been restrained in his criticism of President Trump, let loose while speaking to local media in Tennessee. Per the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

  • "We're at a point where there needs to be radical changes at the White House — it has to happen."
  • "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful."
  • "We should hope that he aspires, that he does some self reflection, and that he does what is necessary to demonstrate stability, to demonstrate competence and demonstrate he understands the character of our nation..."
  • "Helping to inspire divisions because it generates support from your base is not a formula for causing our nation to advance..."
Why it's different: Republican members of Congress have criticized Trump plenty of times before — but rarely in such sweeping, biting terms.
Featured

AT&T reportedly in advanced talks with DOJ for Time Warner deal

Alan Diaz / AP

Justice Department officials are in discussions with AT&T about potential merger conditions, the WSJ reports, a positive sign for its $85 million bid for Time Warner.

Conditions: Despite Trump's early criticism of the tie-up, antitrust experts have anticipated the DoJ would approve the deal — with conditions — since the companies do not directly compete. Still, content providers have raised concerns with the DoJ that the deal will allow AT&T to favor its own programming over others and would consolidate media power. As Bloomberg reported last month, a possible condition would be pledging not to give its own programming an unfair advantage over rivals.

Data: The WSJ also reports that DoJ officials have asked about making AT&T's large amounts of customer data available to competitors at a reasonable price. This data is a major asset as telecom providers try to get a bigger piece of the online advertising market.

Top job still vacant: DoJ's review of the merger has continued despite the fact that the top antitrust enforcer post remains unfilled. Trump's pick for the job, Makan Delrahim, is still waiting on Senate confirmation. His confirmation is not necessary for staff to come to a conclusion on the deal, antitrust experts say.

AT&T has said it expects the deal to close by the end of the year.

Featured

Trump again pushes debunked claim on WWI-era general

President Trump tweeted a fictional claim about WWI-era General John Pershing Thursday afternoon, telling his followers to "study it." This is one of several times Trump has cited the debunked claim about Pershing.

The fictional story he's referring to: Pershing, around the time of the Philippine-American War, killed 49 Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs' blood, and spared the 50th person so that he would take the last bullet to his people and tell them what happened.

Why? Trump has referenced this story repeatedly at rallies both during his campaign and his presidency as a way to give credence to his claim that the U.S. should "go much further" than waterboarding suspected terrorists.

Timing: The tweet came hours after a terrorist attack in Barcelona left at least 13 people dead and more than 50 injured.

Featured

Cleveland Clinic pulls gala from Mar-a-Lago

Evan Vucci / AP

Cleveland Clinic is pulling its 2018 Florida fundraising gala from Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's Palm Beach club, according to the Plain Dealer. Cleveland Clinic's CEO, Toby Cosgrove, was a member of Trump's Strategic and Policy Council, which made the decision to disband minutes before Trump dissolved both of his business advisory councils with a tweet.

The statement: "After careful consideration, Cleveland Clinic has decided that it will not hold a Florida fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in 2018 ... We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years."

Why it matters: It's another rejection for Trump from the business community following his controversial remarks on Charlottesville. Go deeper with Mike Allen's list of who else Trump has alienated.

Featured

Journalist on other end of Bannon interview: "I was stunned"

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of left-wing publication American Prospect (Peter Stevenson / The Washington Post)

Robert Kuttner, co-editor of left-wing publication American Prospect, opened up Thursday to The Washington Post about his unexpected interview with Steve Bannon Tuesday, saying he "was stunned."

  • "He was astonishingly dismissive of his boss' view of saber rattling... and he was quite cavalier in saying things that were quite at odds with the presumed administration line."
  • "The most astonishing thing of all... [is that Bannon first claimed the interview] was a misunderstanding, [saying] 'I didn't realize this was on the record', now he's saying [he] did this deliberately to help the president out by diverting attention from all the stuff that's going on in the aftermath of Charlottesville."
  • "I think you can attribute this to hubris in the sense that, if you're so full of yourself, your judgment starts faltering... this was like a stream of consciousness."

Go deeper: Axios' Jonathan Swan on the Bannon surprise

Featured

Bitcoin is creating a third cryptocurrency

Mark Lennihan / AP

Just a few weeks after bitcoin announced that it was splitting into two separate entities, the initial version of bitcoin and its new "bitcoin cash," the network is adding a third version, per Motherboard.

  • Bitcoin first split in two as a result of the initial network's failure to keep up with the market's rapid transaction growth.
  • With the introduction of bitcoin cash (#2), the currency could offer a transaction capacity eight times the size of the original bitcoin, which developers hoped would ease some of the currency's current back-log issues (and so far bitcoin cash has done just that).
  • But now, a different group of bitcoin developers are urging for a third option, one that will combine the best of the two currencies; essentially a new bitcoin blockchain with its own set of rules.

Potential problems: Three separate currencies could spur a debate over which currency is understood as the "true bitcoin." And juggling three cryptocurrencies could also lead to one dying out.

The idea for the new version dates back to May, when Bitmain, the largest bitcoin infrastructure company in the world, and bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik, got together and signed the "New York Agreement," under which they agreed to adhere to a certain block size increase (two megabytes) alongside segregated witnesses. They call it the Segwit2x, and it's expected to be launched at some point in November.

A breakdown of the three cryptocurrencies, as featured in Motherboard:

Bitcoin
  • One megabyte blocks
  • Segregated witnesses
Bitcoin Cash
  • Eight megabyte blocks
  • No segregated witnesses
Segwit2x/New York Agreement
  • Two megabyte blocks
  • Segregated witnesses