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Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A new Senate bill would tackle an array of health industry tactics that are costing patients a lot of money, but have largely fallen under politicians' radar until now.

The big picture: This is one of the most ambitious bipartisan health care bills in a long time.

Details: The bill, written by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, pitches 3 options for ending surprise hospital billing, including a new one that could coax more doctors into accepting the same insurance plans as the hospitals they practice in.

It would also:

  • Create a nonprofit entity to collect and review claims data, to help illuminate what care actually costs.
  • Ban hospitals from including anticompetitive clauses in their contracts with insurers.
  • Ban pharmacy benefit managers from charging more for a drug than the PBM paid for it, and would require PBMs to pass 100% of rebates or discounts along to insurers and employers that hire them.
  • Prohibit some of the "gaming" practices that drugmakers use to keep competition off of the market.

The backdrop: A bipartisan House proposal released yesterday would restructure Medicare’s drug benefit and cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs.

The other side: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week presented ideas for "Dems' forthcoming prescription drug negotiation bill," according to a senior Democratic aide and first reported by Politico.

  • HHS would negotiate prices for at least 25 drugs every year, which would apply to all payers.
  • Drugs covered by Medicare couldn't have price hikes higher than inflation, or the manufacturer would have to rebate the difference to Medicare.

Go deeper: Capitol Hill sees bipartisan momentum on surprise medical billing

Go deeper

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.