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Axios health care editor Sam Baker hosted a virtual event on the future of health care featuring Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and co-founder of COVID Exit Strategy, Ryan Panchadsaram.

Sen. Bill Cassidy discussed legislation on the future of health tech data privacy, as well as the lasting impact of telehealth options for patients.

  • On 'The Smartwatch Data Act,' bipartisan legislation for data privacy in health tech: "[The Act] would require the information gathered from smartwatches to be treated as if it were protected, health information certainly not to be used without your permission on anything that would otherwise underwrite your eligibility for fill in a product."
  • On the far-reaching impacts of telehealth: "We're able to reach into the person's home or to a place nearby [that's] non-threatening, where they can go for their visit. It has the potential to dramatically improve outcomes and lower expenses."

Ryan Panchadsaram unpacked the inception of 'US Digital Response' and 'COVID Exit Strategy,' large-scale initiatives tracking and reporting out pandemic data, including tests, cases, hospitalizations, and ICU capacity.

  • On the organization goals: "We set out to track how all 50 states were doing on the pandemic and we ranked them red, yellow, green, and we tried to show what metrics could be improved, how testing could be made better. And it really put a spotlight on how bad things were."
  • On considering tech as an essential part of all policy: "Tech will always be a part of policy today... I think what we've got to focus on is always: What are we trying to achieve?... If we want to get three hundred million people vaccinated by a certain date, how is tech going to play a role?"

Axios Senior Vice President Jon Otto hosted a View from the Top Segment with Chief Physician Executive of OptumLabs and Executive Vice President of Research & Development at UnitedHealth Group Dr. Deneen Vojta, who discussed the importance of data science for the future of equitable health care and technology.

  • On training the next generation of data scientists in health: "Going forward, we will see a relentless focus on improving [health disparities]... And we can do so by thinking about our data assets and really understanding why there are such disparities...The best thing we can do is to have a data science pool that looks like the rest of the country."

Thank you UnitedHealth Group for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

First-time homebuyers shrink as prices spike

Data: National Association of Realtors; Chart: Axios Visuals

Home sales cooled as prices continued to heat up in August.

Driving the news: The share of first-time existing homebuyers (29%) last month was the smallest in two years, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.

Mike Allen, author of AM
44 mins ago - World

Airbnb doubles number of Afghan refugees it will house to 40,000

Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

The big picture: The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts.

Florida lawmaker introduces abortion bill modeled after Texas law

A view of the old Florida Capitol building, which sits in front of the current new Capitol building, in Tallahassee. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday modeled after Texas' new law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Similar bills introduced to the Florida legislature have failed, but that was before the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' law, which is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, according to AP.