Americans spent about $3.5 trillion on health care in 2017. Photo: Andy Cross / The Denver Post via Getty Images

Americans continue to spend a lot of money on health care. Don't expect that to change. New preliminary federal data show annual health care spending climbed 4.6% to $3.5 trillion in 2017 — higher than the 4.3% growth rate in 2016 and still a lot higher than the broader inflation rate.

The bottom line: The new data reinforce the point that hospital visits, doctor appointments, surgeries, prescriptions and other health care services are gobbling up more of the U.S. economy right now and in the future at the expense of other societal priorities.

The big picture: The data are from independent actuaries within the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. They predict national health spending will increase by 5.5% on average every year between 2017 and 2026. Projecting health care spending is imprecise and difficult, but some of the major reasons why the growth rate is ticking back up from historical lows:

  • Prices are bouncing back up.
  • Higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors than in prior years, as well as more intense use of health care services from baby boomers and other Medicare beneficiaries.
  • People who had Affordable Care Act plans used a lot of health care, which raised premiums.
  • Prescription drug prices, arguably the industry's biggest bugaboo these days.

A factor not considered: Consolidation, which a House hearing covered today.

Looking ahead: Growth in Medicare and Medicaid spending will only increase faster as more Americans get older and poorer. And the amount spent on people with private insurance will still rise quickly even though high-deductible plans are stunting demand.

Get smart: Prices remain the major driving force behind the country's ballooning health care tab.

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Florida reports another daily record for coronavirus deaths

Nurse practitioner Barbara Corral and a research assistant conduct a COVID-19 vaccination study on August 7 in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida's health department on Tuesday reported 276 new coronavirus deaths, surpassing the state's record from July 31.

The big picture: The state also recorded over 5,800 new cases — on the low side for a state that is one of the domestic epicenters for the virus.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 20,126,452 — Total deaths: 737,285 — Total recoveries: 12,380,410Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 5,098,452 — Total deaths: 163,533 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. States: State testing plans fall short of demand — National Governors Association's bipartisan leaders express concern over Trump's unemployment order.
  4. Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 2 has a personal connection to COVID-19.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. World: New Zealand reports first local cases for 102 days — Why you should be skeptical of Russia's vaccine claims.

Exclusive: Facebook cracks down on political content disguised as local news

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Facebook is rolling out a new policy that will prevent U.S. news publishers with "direct, meaningful ties" to political groups from claiming the news exemption within its political ads authorization process, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: Since the 2016 election, reporters and researchers have uncovered over 1,200 instances in which political groups use websites disguised as local news outlets to push their point of view to Americans.