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AP file photo

Private health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers that sell Medicare Advantage and Part D plans will receive an average payment bump of 0.25% in 2018 from the federal government, according to new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

When factoring in how health plans document and code the medical diagnoses of their seniors and disabled members, the average payment rate will go up by 2.75%. That medical coding has been the focus of some criticism, as a Center for Public Integrity investigation concluded that Medicare insurers are manipulating the process to gain more taxpayer revenue.

No shocking policy moves: The government also decided to keep the phased-in cuts to employer-based Medicare Advantage plans, which the industry has aggressively fought.

Between the lines: Although this is the Trump administration's first foray into Medicare policy, this notice was mostly crafted and prepared by the Obama administration. The final policies for 2018 Medicare Advantage and Part D, two of the fastest growing health care programs, will come out April 3.

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas case, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.