Mar 31, 2017

Insurers on Obamacare payments: Nope, that wasn't clear

Evan Vucci / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday that the Trump administration could use its "discretion" to keep paying insurers for those cost-sharing reduction subsidies they have to give to low-income Obamacare customers. So, yay, problem solved, right?

Not really. Insurers really want to hear that directly from the Trump administration, and they haven't. Until they do, they're not making any decisions about staying in the Obamacare marketplaces next year. And Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price wouldn't answer questions about this at Wednesday's HHS budget hearing. He said he couldn't because he's a party to the House GOP lawsuit challenging the subsidies — which Ryan said the House isn't dropping.

Here's what insurance officials told me:

  • Margaret Murray, CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, which represents safety-net health plans: "We need a clear, unambiguous statement from Congress and the administration that they're going to fund the payments, and we have not received that."
  • Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, which represents not-for-profit insurers that are run by providers: "Speaker Ryan's comments are encouraging but not clear enough for companies to make solid business decisions. If the House maintains its lawsuit and the Trump administration drops the appeal, millions of working families will lose these vital subsidies."

Why it's so hard to solve: Re-upping Caitlin's piece about how Republicans got themselves into this mess, but you should also read Nicholas Bagley's plain-English explanation of why the House and the Trump administration can't just let the whole thing drop, even if they wanted to.

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 32,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 32,000 people around the world — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths, per data from Johns Hopkins.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections, with more than 125,000 by noon on Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. surpassed on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 10 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 685,623 — Total deaths: 32,137 — Total recoveries: 145,706.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 125,313 — Total deaths: 2,197 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week.
  6. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Fixing America's broken coronavirus supply chain

Polowczyk speaks at a coronavirus briefing at the White House, March 23. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The senior Navy officer now in charge of fixing America's coronavirus supply chain is trying to fill the most urgent needs: ventilators and personal protective gear. But barely a week into his role at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he's still trying to establish what's in the pipeline and where it is.

Driving the news: "Today, I, as leader of FEMA's supply chain task force, am blind to where all the product is," Rear Adm. John Polowczyk tells Axios.

Go deeperArrow24 mins ago - Health