Nov 8, 2018

HHS finalizes new contraception rules

Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Another significant change in HHS' program integrity rule: The department wants insurers to send consumers separate bills for medical coverage and whatever coverage they might provide for abortion.

How it works: Federal law says federal funding — including premium subsidies under the ACA — can't be used to cover abortion, and requires insurers to segregate the money they use to provide coverage for abortion services.

  • That segregation will need to include a whole separate billing process if this proposed rule is finalized.
  • HHS said insurers should "send an entirely separate monthly bill to the consumer for only the portion of premium attributable to abortion coverage" — which, according to earlier policy outlines, could be as low as $1.

On a similar note, HHS also finalized rules yesterday making it easier for employers to opt out of the ACA's contraception mandate if they have religious — or, in some cases, moral — objections to birth control.

  • Small businesses, schools, insurance companies and individuals can claim either a religious or moral exemption.
  • Large, for-profit employers do not appear to be able to claim the moral exemption, but non-profits and small businesses can.

The other side: ACA legal expert Nicholas Bagley has argued that the exemption for moral objections is illegal.

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The next frontier for Big Science

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In 1945, engineer and science administrator Vannevar Bush laid out a framework for support of science in the U.S. that drove prosperity and American dominance. That model isn't enough anymore, experts said at an event this week in Washington, D.C.

The big picture: With China threatening to overtake the U.S. in R&D spending even as research becomes more international, science must manage the tension between cooperation and competition.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Science

U.S. and Taliban sign peace deal

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (R) sign a peace agreement during a ceremony in Qatar. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

The United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar on Saturday after over a year of off-and-on negotiations, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The signing of the deal officially begins the process to end the United States' longest war, which has spanned nearly two decades. The agreement sets a timetable to pull the remaining 13,000 American troops out of Afghanistan, per the Times, but is contingent on the Taliban's completion of commitments, including breaking ties with international terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda.

Biden bets it all on South Carolina

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Most Joe Biden admirers Axios interviewed in South Carolina, where he's vowed to win today's primary, said they're unfazed by his embarrassing losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Why it matters: Biden has bet it all on South Carolina to position himself as the best alternative to Bernie Sanders — his "good buddy," he tells voters before skewering Sanders' record and ideas.