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On Friday, November 12, Axios's Sam Baker hosted a conversation on how to expand health insurance access and increasing pandemic concerns, featuring Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and President of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity Avik Roy.

Sen. Smith discussed how the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities in American health care and highlighted the increasing need to expand telehealth options for vulnerable populations.

  • How telehealth can make mental health care more accessible: "The upsurge in depression, anxiety and also suicidal ideation are going up dramatically. These are things that telehealth can also help, not as a complete substitution for in-person care, but as a way of making care more accessible."

Avik Roy unpacked the current health care debate, focusing on the question of how to achieve universal coverage, how government subsidies support employer-based coverage, and where the Republican party stands on health care issues.

  • On the distinction between universal coverage and single-payer systems: "A lot of people on both sides of the debate don't appreciate that universal coverage is not the same thing as single payer government-run health care...a lot of countries in Europe, or at least a number of them, have achieved universal coverage with private insurance companies or private insurers."
  • Where the Republican party stands on health care: "There's no consensus among Republicans as to what they think about health care...there are those who say, let's repeal Obamacare and go back to the old pre-Obamacare system, then there are people in the middle who I think don't like being hammered on their lack of a plan or solution for the uninsured or for the affordability of health insurance."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with CEO of OptumHealth Services at UnitedHealth Group Heather Cianfrocco and discussed making health care more accessible and affordable.

  • On lessons from the pandemic: "What we learned from the pandemic was that the things that already didn't work in the system were even more broken. But then we learned that as we come together with private-public partnerships, we can advance very quickly."

Closed captioning available below:

Thank you United Health Group for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Watch: The future of health care payments

Axios Visuals

Join Axios on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 12:30 pm ET for a conversation on the future of health care payments, featuring New Enterprise Associates Head of Global Healthcare Mohamad Makhzoumi and Cedar Co-founder and CEO, Florian Otto.

20 hours ago - Health

WH coronavirus task force: States must "flatten the curve" to sustain health system

A walk-up Covid-19 testing site in San Fernando, California, on Nov. 24, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The White House coronavirus task force warned states "the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high" and to brace for another surge following Thanksgiving, per a report that emerged Wednesday.

Driving the news: "If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household," said the report, dated Nov. 29, first published by the Center for Public Integrity.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.