Mar 28, 2017

Banner Health tripping over health insurance operations

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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.

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China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown

People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

Go deeperArrow12 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,381,014— Total deaths: 78,269 — Total recoveries: 292,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 378,289 — Total deaths: 11,830 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. States update: New York death toll surged to its highest one-day total as state predicts a plateau in hospitalizations.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The race to reopen America
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy