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Data: Health Care Cost Institute; Table: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Emergency rooms' prices are skyrocketing, and experts say that may be a side effect of the same factors that leave patients on the hook for unexpected bills.

Why it matters: Emergency rooms are collecting more money from private insurance plans, and at the same time they're also surprising patients with the news that their care wasn't covered. So whether you're covered or not, you're paying more.

The big picture: Hospitals get paid more for complex treatments than simple ones. Over the past decade, they've been categorizing more and more visits as complex, while also raising their prices for complex care.

  • Since 2008, the prices hospitals negotiate with insurers have gone up, as have patients' out-of-pocket costs, according to the Health Care Cost Institute.

Between the lines: HCCI's analysis doesn't include ER care that isn't covered by insurance — and that's the source of many of the surprise bills that have sparked so much political controversy.

  • But experts say the two issues are connected.
  • Patients get surprise bills when a specific ER doctor doesn't accept their insurance. The threat of those bills also gives doctors more leverage to demand higher rates from the insurance plans they do accept.

"A lot of the increase in code-specific rates likely stems from emergency physician groups more fully utilizing the leverage from the threat to surprise bill patients," Brookings' Loren Adler said.

What's next: Policymakers — in Congress and in the states — are eyeing a variety of ways to rein in surprise billing.

  • The most aggressive approach would likely be to simply mandate the rate doctors can charge for out-of-network care.
  • An arbitration process would likely be "the least aggressive option," Yale's Zack Cooper said.

Go deeper: We all pay for surprise emergency room bills

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Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 21,056,850 — Total deaths: 762,293— Total recoveries: 13,100,902Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m ET: 5,306,215 — Total deaths: 168,334 — Total recoveries: 1,796,309 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health — FDA releases first-ever list of medical supplies in shortage.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.