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Photo: Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

Once you pull together Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, hospitals end up with an average payment rate that's about 34% higher than what Medicare pays on its own, according to a report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Why it matters: Hospitals are by far the biggest driver of U.S. health care spending, making hospital care a prime target for payment cuts — but the industry maintains that it couldn't survive solely on the rates government programs pay.

What they're saying: Those are the top-line numbers for hospitals overall. CAP also broke out a group limited to acute care hospitals.

  • Among those facilities, total profit was $63.6 billion, suggesting that "stronger rate regulation could save Americans tens of billions of dollars on hospital expenditures, even if rates were tailored to keep afloat loss-making hospitals that are crucial to patient access," CAP's Emily Gee writes.

By the numbers: The acute care hospitals included in the analysis had a 7% total profit margin, on average, in 2016 — less than drug companies' margins but greater than insurers'.

  • Hospital margins have increased over the last decade.

Yes, but: Not all hospitals are the same.

  • For-profit hospitals had an average total margin of 11%, nonprofit hospitals had a 7% margin, and public hospitals had a 5% margin.
  • About a quarter of hospitals lost money in 2016, including 40% of public hospitals.

Go deeper: Hospitals' prices keep going up

Go deeper

Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.

The consumer's massive "war chest"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Economists expect the pace of economic growth to cool off now that government transfer payments like stimulus checks and emergency unemployment benefits are in the rearview mirror. But evidence suggests that the U.S. consumer is sitting on a lot of financial firepower that could be a key driver of growth in the quarters to come.

Why it matters: U.S. consumer spending is massive, representing about 70% of GDP.

The Fed takes on its own rules amid stock trading controversy

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New disclosures that showed Fed officials were active in financial markets set off a firestorm of criticism. Now the Fed may overhaul the long-standing rules that allow those transactions.

Why it matters: What officials actively traded was sensitive to the Fed decisions they helped shape, including the unprecedented support that underpinned a massive financial market boom.