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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

Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: Global data-driven change

On Thursday, January 27, Axios' Ina Fried hosted a conversation on the social impact of Big Data, featuring Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. chief technology officer and founder and CEO of shift7, Megan Smith.

Megan Smith. unpacked how data can help solve some of the biggest equity issues across our economy and society today, and the importance of having everyone at the table.

  • On solving social issues that are exacerbated by new technologies: "It's just not for the tech community to decide [how to fix this] on behalf of all of us, especially because they face extraordinary bias in their hiring practices and their teams' dismissiveness of people who are not of a certain group."
  • On how the government should approach solving problems that cross technological and policy divides: "The key there is less about what and more about who. Who is in the government teams, who is actually in the tech teams? Are they more balanced? How do we get more of society at the table together so that we're more fluent as we work on this?"

Rep. Yvette Clarke highlighted the risks and rewards of using Big Data, as well as the shared responsibility of the public and private sectors to keep the public informed.

  • On how algorithms can amplify existing biases: "[Big Data] can be great in making advances in our civil society. The other side is it can become a mirror of some of the inequities that exist in the real world...and that reflection can be programmed into algorithms."
  • On a balanced approach to technology regulation: "I really want to make sure that the public is educated and informed...[That] we also hold the companies accountable for the ways in which they perpetuate harm in certain respects and reward where they're doing good."

Axios' Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Intel Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer Sandra Rivera to discuss collaboration and creating change from within the tech industry.

  • "We have convened other industry leaders to really drive meaningful, lasting change forward. This is such a big challenge and opportunity. It doesn't really work that any one company can do [it] alone: We take our role in terms of leading that work by participating, collaborating with other tech giants."

Thank you Intel for sponsoring this event.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.