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

Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 33,454,037 — Total deaths: 1,003,571 — Total recoveries: 23,204,219Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 7,165,067 — Total deaths: 205,476 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.

NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.