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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Five health insurers and two hospital systems have until January to send patient billing data, salary data and other information to the Federal Trade Commission as part of a study looking into hospital merger reviews.

Why it matters: The FTC has been skeptical of so-called "certificates of public advantage" — policies that some states adopt as a workaround to approve hospital mergers while avoiding federal antitrust scrutiny.

  • Obtaining data will give federal officials a better idea whether deals approved via these mechanisms better serve the public, or the merging hospitals.

In the crosshairs: Ballad Health and Cabell Huntington Hospital, two systems that both completed controversial mergers. Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare also have to fork over data.

  • Modern Healthcare published a multi-part series on the controversies surrounding Ballad Health.

Go deeper: A reality check on hospital mergers

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in midterms.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The benefits of giving cash directly on Giving Tuesday

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Direct cash giving — channeling donations to charities that dispense money, rather than goods or services — is emerging as the gold standard in anti-poverty philanthropy.

Why it matters: Giving Tuesday is this week, and the money donated that day can do the most good when it goes as directly as possible to those in the most need.