Why it matters: The U.S. faces a range of health care flashpoints — unaffordable drugs, opioids, vaping — as we debate whether to adopt universal care. For now, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but Republicans want to issue it a final death blow.

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3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Border Democrats want migrants vaccinated

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Democrats representing border districts want President Biden to vaccinate migrants crossing into the U.S. — especially if he lifts public health restrictions that have prevented them from claiming asylum on American soil.

Why it matters: Inoculating migrants treads a fine line of protecting the U.S. population while possibly incentivizing more migration with the offer of free COVID-19 vaccines. Republicans are likely to pounce on that.

CDC: "Likely association" between rare heart inflammation and COVID-19 vaccines

A Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

The CDC concluded Wednesday there is a "likely association" between heart inflammation and COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, especially in adolescents and young adults, but still see a clear benefit for the group to get the shot.

The big picture: The findings presented by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices coincide with similar data — that men under 30 make up a larger proportion of cases especially after the second shot, and the condition is rare and treatable.

8 hours ago - Health

Cigna sues U.S. to obtain decade-old tax refunds

Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Express Scripts is suing the U.S. government, according to a lawsuit filed this week. The pharmacy benefit manager, owned by health insurer Cigna, is demanding $43 million in tax refunds from 2010 and 2011, alleging the IRS wrongfully denied the company's use of a now-repealed income tax deduction.

The bottom line: Cigna, one of the largest medical and pharmacy benefit administrators in the country, is suing for an amount that equates to 0.5% of its net profit in 2020 — a year in which the company boosted income as people delayed care due to the pandemic.

19 hours ago - Health

Health insurers leery of Aduhelm, but don't know how to cover it yet

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The head of the health insurance industry's main lobbying group doesn't think the $56,000 annual price tag for Biogen's unproven Alzheimer's treatment, Aduhelm, is justified, but the group won't call on insurance companies to deny coverage of it.

The big picture: Instead, insurers are relying heavily on Medicare and an independent drug pricing group for their coverage decisions.

19 hours ago - Health

The pandemic is a much bigger deal in some states than others

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Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has essentially ended in some states, while others are still experiencing outbreaks.

Why it matters: The wide variation in states' vaccination rates means that stark disparities in case rates could be America's norm for awhile.

20 hours ago - World

New Zealand raises COVID alert level in capital after infected Aussie visits

A security guard turns away visitors to Te Papa National Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, which closed due to being identified as a COVID-19 exposure site following the Australian's visit. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images

New Zealand's capital Wellington had its COVID-19 alert level raised on Wednesday after an Australian contracted a highly infectious strain in Sydney before traveling to NZ and testing positive upon his return.

Why it matters: This is the first positive case related to the Australia-New Zealand quarantine-free "travel bubble" since it opened in April. NZ last confirmed a COVID infection in the community on Feb. 28.

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