Dec 18, 2018

Lamar Alexander's health care legacy

Sen. Lamar Alexander. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images.

Sen. Lamar Alexander — chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — announced his retirement yesterday morning, and so is officially in legacy-making mode.

The backdrop: Earlier this month, he said that a priority for next Congress would be addressing health care costs, a point he reiterated at an Axios event last week. This includes getting rid of wasteful spending, making prices more transparent and addressing surprise medical bills.

"Lowering health care costs is an obvious path towards getting lasting results to help the American people, and Alexander views it as a possible legacy item where he can drag both parties to a consensus before he retires," a person familiar with Alexander's thinking told me yesterday.

Our thought bubble: Alexander is retiring, and Sen. Chuck Grassley has only two years to chair the Finance Committee before he's term-limited out of the position. That makes two chairmen of health care committees who are incentivized to do something big before they leave their position.

  • "Two chairmen who are lame ducks free to do anything they want and the Leader in cycle," one former GOP aide-turned-lobbyist emailed. "What could go wrong?"

Go deeper: How the Senate's bipartisan ACA effort went off the rails

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UFC wants to host fight on tribal land to avoid coronavirus restrictions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In an attempt to skirt federal and state guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC plans to hold its April 18 pay-per-view event on tribal land in California, per multiple reports.

The state of play: Even as the rest of the sports world hits pause, UFC president Dana White has remained adamant that fights must go on, and appears to have settled for a shutdown casino in a state with the fourth-most confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Ivanka Trump plans focus on coronavirus recovery for small businesses

Ivanka Trump speaks at yesterday's White House videoconference with bank and credit card executives. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ivanka Trump personally lobbied top bank executives to line up the $1.5 billion in commitments to small business that were announced yesterday at a videoconference among the bank executives and President Trump — stoking competitive juices among the execs to drive up their commitments.

The state of play: Ivanka, who has had workforce development in her portfolio going back to 2017, plans an increasing emphasis on small businesses in the weeks ahead as they navigate the rescue bill’s Payroll Protection Program, sources tell me.

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

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