Doctors' extensive lobbying on surprise medical bills is partly to blame for Congress' inaction on the issue, reports Kaiser Health News.

Why it matters: "As Congress begins its 2020 legislative session, there is evidence the doctors' message has been received: The bills with the most momentum are making more and more concessions to physicians."

The big picture: Many of the doctors involved in the surprise billing fight are employed by private equity-backed companies.

  • Doctors' voices have a distinct power compared to other industry lobbyists, as they're the ones providing care to patients.
  • Their message to lawmakers, one doctor told Rachana, is that "we just want to be paid a fair amount for the services rendered."

Reality check: Study after study has shown that the doctors that tend to send the most surprise bills also get paid more than other specialties.

  • One study found that four specialties that are often out-of-network raise employer insurance spending by 3.4%.
  • These other specialties — the ones that don't tend to be paid private insurance rates multiple times the amount that Medicare pays — somehow manage to get by.
  • And the relationship to high payment rates and surprise billing isn't random. Researchers say that the potential of surprise bills gives doctors greater negotiating leverage against insurers. One major physician staffing firm admitted as much to lawmakers last year.

Go deeper: Congress remains gridlocked on surprise medical bills

Go deeper

Florida fully lifts coronavirus restrictions on restaurants

Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday the state will completely reopen its economy, allowing restaurants at operate full capacity and barring localities from ordering businesses to close.

Why it matters: The state became one of the world's epicenters for the virus in July, forcing DeSantis to pause its first round of reopening.

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Gasoline-powered cars may be going the way of the woolly mammoth, even if it will take decades to replace them and seems hard to fathom today.

The big picture: Internal combustion engines (ICEs) have powered automobiles for more than 100 years. But the shift to electric vehicles, slow to materialize at first, is now accelerating due to tightening government policies, falling costs and a societal reckoning about climate change.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his wife, Pamela, both tested positive for coronavirus, his office announced on Friday.

The state of play: The Northams were tested after one of their staff "who works closely within the couple's living quarters" tested positive. The governor is asymptomatic, while his wife is "experiencing mild symptoms." They plan to isolate at home for 10 days.

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