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Expand chart
Data: Advertising Analytics; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than half of all issue advertising this year has been on health care, and that spending will only increase as the 2020 campaign gets closer.

Between the lines: Most of the top health care spenders are focused on issues like surprise medical bills and drug prices — many of which would cut into the health care industry's profits.

Where it stands: The biggest spender by far is a dark-money group called Doctor Patient Unity.

  • It has shelled out more than $26 million on ads opposing Congress' plan to address surprise medical bills. Doctors and hospitals staunchly oppose the leading proposal because it would cost them money.
  • AARP and the Partnership for Safe Medicines, an industry group, are on opposite sides of the intense battle over drug prices, which will heat up further this fall.

Health care was a winning issue for Democrats in 2018, but they're not spending much on health care messaging right now.

  • One of the top 5 health spenders is One Nation, which is running anti-Medicare for All ads.
  • There aren't any pro-Medicare for All groups in the top 5, nor are there any groups running ads explicitly on the benefits of the ACA.

Yes, but: Democrats will almost certainly spend more time and money on health care deeper into the 2020 cycle.

  • Health care was still a huge issue in yesterday's special election for North Carolina's 9th district — likely a sign of things to come.
  • "Fast forward to fall of 2020, and you will once again see…campaigns litigated on pre-existing conditions, health care costs and drug costs, because Republicans have only made the problem worse for themselves since 2018," Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said.

Go deeper: The Democratic hunt for a 2020 down-ballot message

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.