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Atrium Health's main campus in North Carolina. Photo: Atrium Health

Atrium Health, a dominant hospital system based in North Carolina, has agreed to a settlement with the Department of Justice and North Carolina's attorney general that will prohibit the system from imposing anticompetitive terms with health insurers that raise costs for consumers.

The big picture: Atrium Health is not the only hospital system that has used these kinds of "anti-steering" contracts, which attempt to suppress competition from lower-cost providers, and it's worth watching whether the federal government and states take more actions.

Details: Atrium, formerly known as Carolinas HealthCare, has to notify Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Cigna, MedCost and UnitedHealthcare of the terms.

  • Moving forward, Atrium cannot draft contracts that would penalize those insurers for creating narrow networks that exclude Atrium's hospitals and doctors or would prevent insurers from disclosing prices to employers and patients.
  • Atrium also can't dictate how insurers include competing providers in their networks.
  • Atrium does not face any monetary penalties and did not admit any wrongdoing. The system downplayed the contracts as old and said in a statement it was "a champion for patient choice."

Yes, but: The settlement expires after 10 years.

Editor's note: This piece was updated to include Atrium Health's statement.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

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Armin Laschet elected as leader of Merkel's CDU party in Germany

Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar - Pool/Getty Images

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
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  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.