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Two women over age 65 talk at a senior center. Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The federal government has proposed raising average payments to Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans by 1.59% for the 2020 plan year, a tick down from what was proposed for 2019.

The bottom line: The final rate, which will come out April 1, will almost certainly be higher; the initial proposal usually lowballs certain factors within Medicare's complex payment formula. Regardless, more people are flocking to Medicare Advantage and Part D, which together will cost an estimated $350 billion this year and $383 billion in 2020.

Details: The feds also proposed other policies affecting the two programs.

  • Medicare is encouraging, but not requiring, plans to offer lower cost-sharing for drugs that reverse opioid overdoses, like naloxone.
  • Changes to how MA plans code the diseases of their members are expected to increase payments on average, even though there has been widespread concern plans are inflating codes to get higher payments.

Be smart: This year and next year are expected to be immensely profitable for MA and Part D plans, as the Trump administration has created "a friendly environment" for companies that participate in the programs.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

3 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.