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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Hospitals acknowledged to investors at this year's J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that their industry is contributing to patients' financial turmoil.

Yes, but: Hospitals reassured those same investors that they were focused on growing their revenue, with no real details about how that would save patients money.

What they're saying: "The number one cause of personal bankruptcy is our industry," Intermountain Healthcare CEO Marc Harrison, who is recovering from cancer treatment, said in one of the conference's opening sessions. "We have an absolute responsibility to make health care as affordable as possible."

  • Intermountain CFO Bert Zimmerli said his system has taken a $100 million hit to its bottom line by lowering costs over the past two years — a fraction of Intermountain's $9 billion of annual revenue.
  • He then touted the system's above-average 6% operating margin and explained that its collections from patients "have really been strong."
  • Bon Secours Mercy Health CEO John Starcher, who helped complete the system's merger and has acquired other community hospitals, said BSMH will continue to look at other deals because "growth is necessary" — even though all reputable evidence suggests hospital mergers raise prices and don't improve care.

The big picture: Health care's high prices, especially for hospital services, eat away at everyone's paychecks and cause large out-of-pocket burdens. But health systems mostly haven't made a dent in changing those affordability concerns.

Go deeper: A reality check on hospital beds.

Go deeper

Anti-Trump lawmakers' private security expenses ballooned after Jan. 6 riot

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on April 14. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News.

Between the lines: Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

1 hour ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of the city's most prominent pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.