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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Sen. Lamar Alexander wants the Trump administration to keep funding the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing subsidies — without necessarily waiting for Congress to provide the money. The Senate HELP Committee chairman said in a statement that the administration should "find a way, either through administrative action or legislation or a combination" to keep the subsidy payments coming "at least through 2018 — and probably should go ahead and do it through 2019."

Between the lines: What's notable here is Alexander's openness to the administration propping up this program on its own. He has said many times that Congress should appropriate funding for the cost-sharing subsidies. But insurers have to make their decisions about whether to participate by next week, and Congress couldn't act that quickly even if it wanted to. (And many Republicans don't want to.) A commitment from the White House is probably the best insurance companies are going to get.

Reminder: A federal judge has said this arrangement — the White House funding cost-sharing subsidies without an appropriation — is unconstitutional.

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

5 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.