Sep 24, 2019

The Blue Cross Blue Shield tax break rolls on

Health Care Service Corp. headquarters (right). Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Health Care Service Corp., the parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 5 states, did not pay any federal income taxes in the first half of 2019. Instead, it got a $454 million tax refund, according to company financial documents.

The big picture: This comes after HCSC received a $1.7 billion federal tax refund in 2018 and highlights how Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers continue to be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the 2017 Republican tax overhaul.

By the numbers: HCSC's net profit in the first half of 2019, including the $454 million refund, topped $2.3 billion. These figures do not reflect the corporation's self-insured business with employers.

  • HCSC was sitting on a $19.1 billion cash reserve as of June 30, several billion dollars more than competing insurers, including its publicly traded Blues brethren Anthem.

What we're watching: HCSC has $323 million of unpaid rebates that need to go out to consumers who were overcharged for insurance.

Between the lines: HCSC and other state Blue Cross Blue Shield plans heavily lobbied Congress and the White House to enact changes to the tax code starting in 2018. This was why.

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The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.