Aug 31, 2017

Kasich, Hickenlooper call for quick ACA fixes, modest reforms

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are out with their bipartisan health care plan, and it sticks pretty close to the Affordable Care Act fixes Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray will start considering next week — but with a broader range of practical changes to be considered after the markets are stabilized.

Why it matters: Kasich and Hickenlooper have gotten a lot of attention for their bipartisan work on health care and other issues, though more so before Kasich ruled out running together for the White House in 2020. Their work may boost Alexander and Murray’s efforts to fund ACA insurer payments and increase state flexibility, but it also includes a menu of other ideas they could consider after the basic bill passes.

The highlights of the plan:

Quick fixes:

  • Fund the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers (likely to be in Alexander-Murray bill)
  • Create a temporary “stability fund” for reinsurance or other programs to limit insurer losses
  • Exempt insurers from the ACA’s health insurance tax to encourage them to cover underserved counties
  • Let people in those counties buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to give them more choices
  • Keep the individual mandate “for now"

Broader changes:

  • Keep funding outreach to encourage young adults to enroll
  • Crack down on customers only signing up when they need insurance
  • Strengthen the ACA’s risk-sharing protections for insurers
  • Let states choose different ways of covering the ACA’s “essential health benefits”
  • Make it easier to fast-track states’ “Section 1332” waivers (letting them achieve the ACA’s goals in different ways)
  • Encourage more creative ways to pay for health care, like "value-based health care purchasing"

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 65,691 — Total deaths: 30,438 — Total recoveries: 139,263.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 119,748 — Total deaths: 1,991 — Total recoveries: 921.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers financial relief.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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