Apr 30, 2019

Judge calls United "barbaric" for not covering cancer therapy

United Healthcare's refusal to cover an advanced cancer treatment was "immoral and barbaric," a federal judge said yesterday as he recused himself from a lawsuit over that decision. The class-action suit accuses United of wrongfully denying coverage for proton-beam radiation to treat prostate cancer.

Between the lines: Judges set their personal beliefs aside all the time. But, in a reminder of just how personal health care can be, Judge Robert Scola said he simply couldn't do that. He said he had considered proton-beam therapy himself, and that a friend paid $150,000 for the procedure because United wouldn't cover it. "To deny a patient this treatment, if it is available, is immoral and barbaric," he wrote in an unusual parting shot.

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The biggest crisis since 1968

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Bettmann/Contributor

The year 1968 has been on a lot of people’s minds lately — another year of protests, violence and upheaval that seemed to be tearing the nation apart.

Yes, but: This crisis also has moments we’ve never seen before — and some historians and experts say the differences suggest that 2020 doesn't compare well at all.

SoftBank to launch $100M fund backing companies led by people of color

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure said in a letter to employees early Wednesday that the firm will create a $100 million fund that "will only invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color."

Why it matters: The Opportunity Growth Fund is one of the first to put significant capital behind companies' statements of empathy and outrage in response to protests over systemic racism in the U.S. typified by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans by police.

Coronavirus hospitalizations keep falling

Data: COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Note: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Tennessee and Puerto Rico have not reported hospitalizations consistently. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to decline, particularly in New York and other northeastern states that were among the hardest hit by the virus.

Yes, but: Some states are still recording stagnant or rising amounts of hospitalizations.