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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge upheld Tuesday the Trump administration's rules requiring hospitals to publicly disclose the prices they've negotiated with insurers — information that both hospitals and insurers would very much prefer to keep secret.

The state of play: The American Hospital Association sued to block the rules, arguing that they exceeded the administration's legal authority and infringed on hospitals' First Amendment rights. The court rejected both arguments.

"The publication of charges will allow the agency to further its interest of informing patients about the cost of care, which will in turn advance its other interest — bringing down the cost of health care," Judge Carl Nichols wrote in his ruling.

Experts and economists aren't so sure that's correct. There's at least an argument that price transparency can backfire, causing prices to rise, but it has been a core element of the Trump administration's efforts to lower health care prices.

  • And the difficulty — in many cases, the impossibility — of finding out in advance how much hospital care will cost is often maddening for patients.

What's next: The AHA will appeal this ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and says it will seek expedited review. The disclosure are rules are set to take effect in January.

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court upholds six-day extension for counting Wisconsin ballots

Photo: Derek R. Henkle/AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that extended the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in Wisconsin until Nov. 9 as long as they are postmarked by the Nov. 3 election, AP reports.

Why it matters: It's a big win for Democrats that also means that the winner of Wisconsin, a key presidential swing state, may not be known for six days after the election. Republicans are likely to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, as the Pennsylvania GOP did after a similar ruling on Monday.

Go deeper: How the Supreme Court could decide the election

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.