Humana has ended its AHIP membership. Photo: Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg via Getty

Humana has terminated its membership with the health insurance industry’s primary trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans. The formal termination came on Dec. 31, though a Humana spokesman said the company "has not actively participated in AHIP since early 2017."

Why it matters: It's another blow to AHIP, renewing questions about the group's lobbying influence. Humana, one of the largest Medicare Advantage insurers in the country, is the third major defection since the middle of 2015, when former Obama administration official Marilyn Tavenner took over as AHIP's CEO. Aetna and UnitedHealth Group were the first big insurers to ditch AHIP in 2015.

AHIP responds: AHIP spokeswoman Kristine Grow said Humana's decision to leave was communicated as "a business decision as opposed to any other drivers about where AHIP is going or our direction." Companies pay membership dues based on how big they are.

She also said AHIP, a loud voice during the Affordable Care Act debates in 2009, added 12 members last year.

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Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.

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