This was 7 years ago. Photo: Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

The Affordable Care Act was and is a big deal.

Yes, but: It probably should not be the sun around which all health policy must orbit. And the fact that Washington has thrust it into that role, for almost a decade, has diverted attention and political energy from the very important issue of what health care costs.

  • "We're doing nothing. Nothing. We're heading toward the waterfall," former Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf told Politico's Joanne Kenen, who has a good piece about the opportunity cost of the ACA wars.

Polls show that the public is worried about cost more than anything else in the health care system, but it's not getting commensurate political attention.

  • Republicans are torn among competing strategies of ignoring health care, stoking the embers of the ACA-repeal fire, and promoting an agenda of looser regulations with higher out-of-pocket costs.
  • Democrats are torn between expanding the ACA (which would shift more costs to taxpayers, without necessarily lowering them) and calls for single-payer (which includes some very dramatic cost controls, but is the most politically difficult option you could imagine).

The bottom line: Health care costs are just going to keep on climbing.

Go deeper: Former HHS official calls on employers to crack down on health care costs

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Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.
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China embraces hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.

Justice Department sues Google over alleged search monopoly

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The Justice Department and 11 states Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of using anticompetitive tactics to illegally monopolize the online search and search advertising markets.

Why it matters: The long-awaited suit is Washington's first major blow against the tech giants that many on both the right and left argue have grown too large and powerful. Still, this is just step one in what could be a lengthy and messy court battle.