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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Yet again, the 2020 Democrats debated last night without devoting much attention to their very interesting ideas for controlling health care costs. But whether they talk about it or not, they've laid out a broad range of ideas for this incredibly pressing issue.

The big picture: Democrats' ideas run the gamut, from taking control over all health care purchasing to plans that would directly regulate a slice of the market, attempting to put pressure on the rest of it.

The newest entrant to the debate stage, Mike Bloomberg, has proposed a plan that similar to Pete Buttigieg's.

How it works: Bloomberg and Buttigieg's plans would only directly regulate how much providers can charge patients whose insurance they don't accept. They would only allow out-of-network charges up to 200% of the rates Medicare pays.

  • "Caps on out of network prices would sort of nudge the whole system to make it more affordable," said the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt. "It’s kind of price controls lite."
  • Today, providers use the threat of big out-of-network bills as leverage to get better rates from insurers. These proposals would flip those incentives, giving insurers more leverage.

Details: Bloomberg's cap is limited to hospital charges, while Buttigieg's applies to most health care providers.

  • This kind of cap would likely have more of an impact on emergency rooms, where many big out-of-network bills come from, experts said.
  • "This type of policy could drive a significant reduction in prices for a moderate-sized slice of health care spending," Brookings' Matt Fiedler said.

Moderate Democrats have also proposed a public insurance option, competing alongside private insurance.

  • Part of the rationale for a public option is that, by attracting more people into a Medicare-like program, it could help create competitive pressures that would drive down prices across the board.

Then there's Medicare for All, which would make the federal government the only entity that pays for health care, giving it complete control over how much all providers get paid.

Go deeper

Trump bump: NYT and WaPo digital subscriptions tripled since 2016

Data: Axios reporting and public filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Times and The Washington Post have very different strategies for building the subscription news company of the future.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios that the Post is nearing 3 million digital subscribers, a 50% year-over-year growth in subscriptions and more than 3x the number of digital-only subscribers it had in 2016. The New York Times now has more than 6 million digital-only subscribers, nearly 3x its number from 2016.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's emerging climate orbit

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

Janet Yellen is back

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

A face familiar to Wall Street is back as a central player that this time will need to steer the country out of a deep economic crisis.

Driving the news: President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary.