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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Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 33,454,037 — Total deaths: 1,003,571 — Total recoveries: 23,204,219Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 7,165,067 — Total deaths: 205,476 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.

NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.

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