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Pixabay

Phoenix-based Banner Health knew it was taking on an unprofitable venture when it acquired the University of Arizona Medical Center in 2015 — including its health insurance plans. Some problems still exist or have gotten worse.

The $7.6 billion Banner improved its profitability in 2016 with a 2.1% operating margin, up from 1.8% in 2015, according to audited financials released Tuesday. But that's mostly because Banner's hospitals and clinics made up for the shortfall in the health insurance operations, which were part of the University of Arizona deal. The operating losses at Banner's health plans quadrupled from 2015 to 2016, totaling $154 million. It's yet another example of a health system struggling to own an insurance company.

There's an Obamacare angle: Banner's losses from its commercial health plans were 27 times higher in 2016. The system blamed the collapse of Arizona's Obamacare marketplace, where most insurers have exited and "resulted in significant numbers of high-cost enrollees migrating to Banner narrow-network products in 2016," executives wrote to bondholders.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.

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