Oct 17, 2018

Insurers go all in on Medicare Advantage

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Medicare’s annual enrollment period started Monday, and health insurers are banking that a lot more seniors and people with disabilities will sign up for private Medicare Advantage plans instead of traditional Medicare coverage.

Driving the news: UnitedHealth Group executives yesterday said earnings per share next year will increase by roughly 13%, due in large part to MA's “extraordinary growth opportunity.”

  • Devoted Health, a startup founded by Todd and Ed Park, just raised $300 million in venture funding as it starts selling MA plans for the first time in eight Florida counties.
  • MA plans are all the rage among hospital-owned insurers, too.
  • MA enrollment increased 8% in 2018, and the feds expect a 12% enrollment bump for 2019.

The bottom line: Both Democrats and Republicans support MA, so the enrollment wave likely won’t subside in the near term. But there are still deep concerns about insurers gaming the program.

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Trump's clemency spree

Rod Blagojevich in 2010. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Trump announced Tuesday that he commuted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for extortion, bribery and corruption — as well as issuing full pardons for former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

The big picture: The president's clemency spree largely benefitted white-collar criminals convicted of crimes like corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering, undercutting his message of "draining the swamp."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's improbable moonshot

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA is unlikely to meet its deadline of sending astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2024, even with a large influx of funding.

Why it matters: The Artemis mission to send people back to the Moon is the Trump administration's flagship space policy, and its aggressive, politically-motivated timeline is its hallmark.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Science

Justice Department says U.S. attorneys are reviewing Ukraine information

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) Tuesday informing him that the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania are reviewing "unsolicited" information from the public related to matters involving Ukraine.

Why it matters: Nadler had requested an explanation for the "intake process" that Attorney General Bill Barr stated had been set up in order to receive information that Rudy Giuliani had obtained about the Bidens in Ukraine.