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K Health CEO Allon Bloch argued at an Axios virtual event Tuesday that the surge in the popularity of telemedicine during the pandemic offers a "massive opportunity" to rethink the U.S. health care system in a way that could cut costs and broaden primary-care access.

Why it matters: Given its heavily regulated and fragmented nature, health care tends to be slow to adopt innovation, as Axios' Bryan Walsh has reported. But the pandemic has shown Americans the advantages of communicating with doctors remotely.

By the numbers: According to FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, which draws from 31 billion private health care claim records, telemedicine claim lines increased an astounding 4,347% year-over-year in March.

What they're saying: "I think, to me, it's a basic question: If you look at your pre-COVID life, what do you yearn for? You probably yearn for a coffee place, a restaurant, a music venue," Bloch told Axios' Caitlin Owens.

  • "I doubt people are yearning to, if they're not feeling well, book a doctor's appointment, take days to see the doctor, wait in line, get sneezed on, and then pay a lot of money."
  • "If you can resolve your problem remotely, in a matter of minutes, which I think most of primary care and chronic care can be done that way, then why not?"

Yes, but: Bloch acknowledged that there are obstacles to widespread adoption of telemedicine, including access to the internet.

Go deeper

Joe Biden's big lead on health care issues

Reproduced from a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Health care has fragmented into multiple issues in this campaign cycle, and Joe Biden leads President Trump on almost all of them, according to our KFF polling.

The big picture: Biden’s commanding leads on protecting people with pre-existing conditions and managing the coronavirus outbreak suggest that Trump’s record and rhetoric on those issues, while popular with his base, may have backfired with the electorate generally.

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.