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

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

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