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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration is using a regulatory workaround to achieve some of the same goals of Republicans' failed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Driving the news: HHS released new guidance yesterday about how it will approach the ACA's existing waiver process. It said it would, in some circumstances, approve waivers that go far beyond what's currently allowed.

  • States could change the way the ACA's subsidies are administered. They're currently based on income and the cost of insurance. States could change that to take consumers' age into account — a model that was also used in repeal-and-replace legislation.
  • States obtaining a waiver could also let people use their ACA subsidies to buy insurance that doesn't meet the ACA's coverage requirements — for example, newly expanded "short-term" plans that are able to turn away people with pre-existing conditions.

The big picture: This is one of the administration's most significant anti-ACA moves to date — if it works.

  • States that ask for everything they're now allowed to, and get it, could set up an insurance market that looks a lot different from what the ACA envisioned.
  • But they have to be approved first. Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, who are independent from the agency's political leadership, will have to certify that a waiver wouldn't weaken the state's overall insurance market too badly.

What's next: The new standards and/or any approved waivers could face legal challenges — both on the merits and because these new rules were articulated in a guidance document rather than a formal regulation with opportunities for public comment, Brookings fellow Christen Linke Young writes.

Go deeper: Trump administration loosens rules for ACA waivers

Go deeper

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The burst of Biden administration staffing picks announced yesterday revealed that the Energy Department (DOE) has newly created roles that reflect what President Biden called campaign priorities.

Driving the news: One new position is "director of energy jobs," which is being filled by Jennifer Jean Kropke. She was previously the first director of workforce and environmental engagement with Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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Away co-founder Jen Rubio, who will step in as interim CEO. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Glamour

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Why it matters: Haselden, formerly with Lululemon, appeared to have established executive stability at Away, whose co-founder Steph Korey previously resigned as CEO before retaking the reins alongside Haselden and then resigning again.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.