Phil Sandlin / AP

The Trump administration unloaded the annual Medicare hospital payment proposal Friday, just as many people headed home or took off for the Easter and Passover holidays.

The big figure for hospitals: Total Medicare payments for the nation's 3,300 general hospitals will go up by 2.9% on average in 2018, and that includes extra money for uncompensated care. (Small hospitals in rural areas aren't affected.) That amounts to an extra $3.1 billion of funding. Long-term-care hospitals are getting a slight cut to their payments.

Look for regulations to get scaled back: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is asking the industry for ways that Medicare "can contribute to making the delivery system less bureaucratic and complex" — a request that mirrors the rhetoric of President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Public comments are due by June 13. Here are more highlights from the 1,832-page proposed rule:

  • Obamacare implemented many programs that penalize hospitals for excessive patient readmissions or infections. Those programs will continue with some proposed changes to how hospitals are measured.
  • Some payment policies — like exempting some physicians from payment cuts if they don't use approved electronic health records — come from last year's 21st Century Cures Act.
  • Medicare is asking hospitals to track four more end-of-life measures for cancer patients, like those who receive chemotherapy in the final two weeks before they die.
  • Private contractors would no longer look at medical claims at rural hospitals to ensure that patients are discharged or transferred within 96 hours, a change rural hospitals have wanted.
  • CMS wants to eliminate newspaper notices for when some health care facilities, like ambulatory surgery centers and health clinics, get terminated from the Medicare program. The agency called newspapers "an outdated means of communication" even though half of seniors rely on print newspapers for their news.

Go deeper

Lawyers crystal-ball the Google antitrust case

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Justice Department's antitrust suit against Google is a strong, straightforward monopoly case, competition lawyers and experts tell Axios. But that doesn't mean it'll be an easy journey for the government.

The big picture: Winning any antitrust case is a heavy lift. It's even more of a challenge to pull off victory in a future-looking case that seeks to make room for potential new competition to flourish.

The pandemic is getting worse again

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Due to a database error, Missouri had a 3 day gap in reporting from Oct. 11-13; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Every available piece of data proves it: The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse again, all across America.

The big picture: As the death toll ticks past 212,000, at a moment when containing the virus ought to be easier and more urgent than ever, we are instead giving it a bigger foothold to grow from.

SurveyMonkey poll: Young voters' red-state blue wall

Data: SurveyMonkey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

There are only five states in the U.S. where voters younger than 35 embrace President Trump over Joe Biden, and none are swing states, according to new 50-state SurveyMonkey-Tableau data for Axios.

Why it matters: These scattered red spots in a sea of blue vividly illustrate Trump's peril if young people were to actually turn out this year. Put another way, Trump's path to re-election depends heavily on younger adults staying home.

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