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Premiums for insurance sold through the Affordable Care Act are going down next year, for the first time in the law’s history. But they could be going down even more, if not for some of the Trump administration’s policy choices.

By the numbers: Across all insurance plans that comply with the ACA — whether they’re sold through the exchanges or not — premiums are about 6% higher than they otherwise could have been, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

  • The difference is even starker for middle-of-the-road silver plans — the most popular type of plan sold through the ACA’s exchanges that's also used to determine the size of people’s subsidies. Those could be 16% cheaper, Kaiser says.

How it works: Trump’s decision to cut off the law’s cost-sharing subsidies caused insurers to raise premiums significantly, mostly for those silver plans. Nullifying the individual mandate and opening up access to skimpier short-term plans are also expected to hurt the ACA’s overall mix of sick and healthy people.

  • Those factors all drove premiums higher this year, and will limit the size of premium decreases next year, Kaiser says.

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.