Apr 30, 2019

Health care's two political realities

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The Medicare for All debate is burning red-hot this week, while more incremental health care reforms inch forward out of the spotlight.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Joe Biden said in his first official campaign speech yesterday that he supports an optional Medicare buy-in, putting him at odds with the other Democratic front-runner, Sen. Bernie Sanders, on a key 2020 issue.

  • While Sanders supports a single-payer system, Biden's plan would create a government option for enrollees in the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the Washington Post reports. Employers could also buy into the plan.
  • Today, the divide between more moderate Democrats and their left flank will be further on display in the House's first hearing on Medicare for All, which has already caused consternation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the plan's supporters, HuffPo reported.
  • Republicans will surely relish the opportunity to hammer Democrats on their "socialist" health care plan.

Meanwhile, a different House panel will hold a hearing today on how Medicare pays for prescription drugs, and a third will consider a handful of drug pricing bills.

  • Top members of both parties see prescription drugs as the major policy area most ripe for a deal before the 2020 election.

In the states, some of Democrats' coverage expansion plans have stalled, but other states have managed to move forward. Colorado passed public option legislation last week, and Washington followed suit over the weekend, KEPR reports.

The bottom line: Health care was a winning issue for Democrats in 2018 and the party is still trying to figure out what would be a winning health care message in 2020 — playing it safe or swinging for the Medicare for All fences.

Go deeper: How your health care would change under "Medicare for All"

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll nears 11,000

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

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,900 in the U.S. early Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died of coronavirus-related conditions each day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 14 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,347,803 — Total deaths: 74,807 — Total recoveries: 277,402Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 368,196 — Total deaths: 10,986 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. 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.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Docs: Navarro memos warning mass death circulated West Wing in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

  • By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Driving the news: Navarro's grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to the president. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health