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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today is the beginning of the second Affordable Care Act enrollment season under President Trump. And things are … surprisingly normal.

The big picture: The ACA has been in a state of upheaval since Trump’s inauguration. Some of the changes Republicans made during that upheaval will likely weaken the law. At this moment, though, the watchword for insurers is stability. Things may not be ideal, but at least they’re largely settled.

What they’re saying: “From a consumer perspective, the experience should be pretty good,” said Kelley Turek, a policy specialist at America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s leading trade organization.

  • Technical testing with HealthCare.gov has gone well, Turek said, and back-end systems that coordinate between enrollees and insurers seem to be in good shape.

This will be the first enrollment period in which Trump’s ACA agenda is fully in place.

  • People will be able to buy skimpy, inexpensive “short-term” plans as an alternative to comprehensive, potentially subsidized ACA coverage. They won't be sold through the ACA's exchanges, but will compete through brokers and other websites.
  • The individual mandate won’t be in effect.
  • Federal outreach funding, and grants to “navigators” who helped people compare their options, have been slashed.

What we’re watching: Insurers generally feel that they’ve already calibrated for those policy changes, mainly through sky-high premium increases a year ago. This upcoming enrollment period will determine whether they got that balance right.

  • Before the ACA’s exchanges had opened, losing the individual mandate seemed like a disaster. Its actual disappearance was greeted more with a shrug. Real-world experience raised questions about whether it had enough “teeth,” Turek said.
  • Short-term plans could siphon healthy consumers away from ACA coverage, making it more expensive for those who remain. But they could also be a reasonable option for people who can’t afford ACA coverage, Turek said, as long as they know what they’re buying.

The bottom line: The ACA may not be working as Democrats had initially hoped, but it’s not dead, and for now it seems to have settled into a scaled-back status quo that’s sustainable.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

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