Apr 30, 2020 - Health

Employers split from health care industry over coronavirus demands

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several large employer groups this week refused to sign on to funding requests they consider a "handout" for hospitals and insurers, according to three people close to the process.

The big picture: Coronavirus spending bills are sharpening tensions between the employers that fund a significant portion of the country's health care system and the hospitals, doctors and insurers that operate it.

Driving the news: The industry's most recent request — written primarily by the large hospital and health insurance lobbying groups — focused on a few items for the next coronavirus legislation.

  • Providing subsidies to maintain employer-sponsored insurance, which already receives a large tax break, as well as providing subsidies for COBRA for people who have lost their jobs. Some analysts predict 12 million to 35 million people will get thrown off their job-based coverage due to the pandemic.
  • Increasing subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans and creating a special ACA enrollment window.
  • Opposing the use of the industry's bailout funds to pay for uninsured COVID-19 patients at Medicare rates.

Between the lines: Employers know they get charged a lot more for health care services compared with public insurers, but many weren't keen about urging Congress to "set up a government program to pay commercial reimbursements," said an executive at a trade group that represents large corporations.

  • The demands "make perfect sense for hospitals who are trying to maximize their reimbursement and for insurance companies who are getting a cut when someone is in private insurance," said another employer group lobbyist. The sources asked not to be named to speak candidly.
  • Many employer groups still have a bad taste in their mouth after the industry torpedoed a fix to surprise medical bills last year.

The other side: Several health care groups that signed the letter dismissed the idea of any disagreement with employers.

  • "As far as I know, everyone is rowing in the same direction," said Chip Kahn, head of the Federation of American Hospitals, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit hospitals and is a prominent voice in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Go deeper: The coronavirus is exposing the holes in employer health insurance

Go deeper

Jun 4, 2020 - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.