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HealthCare.gov homepage. Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The Health and Human Services Department edited HealthCare.gov in a way that seems to subtly steer people toward other, private enrollment options, according to a review by the Sunlight Foundation.

Details: The edits, which were made roughly two weeks into the six-week enrollment period, affect the “How to Apply & Enroll” page on HealthCare.gov.

  • Two enrollment options — phone and mail — were removed altogether. Unpaid enrollment “assisters,” whose budgets have been cut significantly, were rolled in with agents and brokers.
  • The option to use HealthCare.gov went from the first option listed to the last.
  • Above it are links to external enrollment sites run by for-profit companies, including insurers’ websites. That’s consistent with HHS’ desire to open up more “direct enrollment” pathways, but some of those pathways may not list all of consumers’ options.

My thought bubble: On the merits, this does not seem particularly likely to set back overall enrollment very much. Hardly anyone enrolls by mail, and other parts of HealthCare.gov, including its homepage, still list the number of the call center for people who want help over the phone.

  • Still, coming as it does on top of outreach cuts and policy changes that weaken the Affordable Care Act, don’t be surprised if this sparks new criticism from the law’s supporters.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

10 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 12 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.