May 28, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

😎 Happy Tuesday, and welcome back.

Today's Axios AM: 1,191 words ... < 5 minutes!

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1 big thing: Pulling back the curtain on health care prices

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

President Trump plans an executive order as soon as this week to require the disclosure of health care prices in an effort to help patients shop around.

The catch: It might not do a lot to bring down health care costs, reports Axios' Caitlin Owens, who writes the daily newsletter Vitals.

  • It could even backfire: If doctors or hospitals know that someone else is getting paid more for the same services, they might raise their prices.
  • "Knowing what concessions everyone is getting, or giving, can often mean that the low price ... serves as a floor, rather than a ceiling, in future negotiations," said Chris Sloan of the health care consulting firm Avalere.

The big picture: The Trump effort is critical to the conservative vision of health care, built on the idea that health care should operate more like a market.

  • The idea is that patients would reward doctors and hospitals that give them the best quality and the best price.

The bottom line: That can work up to a point, and it certainly can with non-urgent tests and procedures.

  • That breaks down, of course, when you're having an emergency and don't have time to look around for the best price — and may not have a choice.

What's next: "The administration is also looking at using agencies such as the Justice Department to tackle regional monopolies of hospitals and health-insurance plans over concerns they are driving up the cost of care," according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

2. Sobering state of affairs in Germany
The 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, in Berlin in November. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa via Getty Images

What's new: "Germany’s top official responsible for efforts against anti-Semitism suggested this weekend that Jews should not wear their skullcaps everywhere in public," the N.Y. Times reports from Berlin.

  • Why it matters: "The recommendation ... came amid growing evidence that, three-quarters of a century after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is on the rise."

P.S. "German newspaper Bild published a cut-out kippah skullcap on its front page Monday, urging readers to show their solidarity with the country's Jewish community in the face of rising anti-Semitism." (CNN)

3. America, 2019
Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Bob Dole, 95 — accompanied by Elizabeth Dole, 82 — waves after being recognized by Vice President Pence during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Pence said: "We're actually joined today by two leaders who have quite possibly done more to honor the memory of our fallen and support their families than any other living Americans."
  • "For his courageous service in World War II, for all they have both done to preserve the memory of the Greatest Generation, and for their support of military families, would you join me in thanking Senators Bob Dole and Elizabeth Dole for their countless contributions to the United States of America?" Applause.
4. Pic of the week
Courtesy @nimsdai/Project Possible/#ProjectPossible

This incredible photo showing deadly queuing on Mount Everest was taken by Nirmal "Nims" Purja, who summited Everest on May 22 despite what he called "heavy traffic ... roughly 320 people."

  • The climber is trying to break a world record by climbing the 14 mountains on Earth that are higher than 8,000 meters — all in the Himalayas.
  • The record is 7 years, 11 months. His goal is 7 months.

The photo was widely picked up without sufficient credit, and he tweeted: "Risked my life to get it & took my gloves off in freezing cold to take this."

⚡ Breaking: A Colorado climber died shortly after getting to the top of Mount Everest and achieving his dream of scaling the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, his brother said yesterday. (AP)

  • About half a dozen climbers died on Everest last week. Most of them died while descending during only a few windows of good weather.
5. Women CEOs well-paid, but outnumbered
From left: Mary Barra of GM, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Phebe Novakovic of General Dynamics, Ginni Rometty of IBM and Adena Friedman of Nasdaq. Photos: AP

The median pay package for female CEOs of the largest companies last year was $12.7 million, compared with $11.2 million for men, according to data analyzed by Equilar for AP.

  • That reflects a raise of $680,000 for the same group of female CEOs from a year before, versus a raise of $540,000 for men.

Of the 340 companies included in the analysis, 19 were run by women.

6. Said every politician ever
Beto O'Rourke takes a selfie in San Francisco. Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke to The New Yorker's William Finnegan, on what he doesn't love about campaigning:

  • "[T]he thirty members of the press, in your face, at the first event, at the second event, at the third, and then day after day after day, and asking almost nothing about anything that we just experienced together in that room."

Keep reading.

7. Sign of the times
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the June issue of Washingtonian magazine, a resident asks: Is it OK to yell at tourists in MAGA hats?

  • That's certainly one Miss Manners never got.

Here's how senior editor Andrew Beaujon responds:

Ask yourself what you might accomplish by stinking up people's trips to the District. Are you going to change their minds? Or — far more likely — send them home convinced that East Coast "elites" are a bunch of rude weenies? A better idea: If you're anti-Trump, take pleasure in being super-nice to people who flaunt their MAGA stuff. It could change their preconceived ideas about Washingtonians who don't agree with them.
8. 🇨🇳 Stat du jour

Chinese tourism to the U.S. fell last year for the first time in 15 years, dropping 5.7% in 2018 to 2.9 million visitors. (AP)

  • Last summer, China issued a travel warning for the U.S., telling its citizens to beware of shootings, robberies and high costs for medical care.
9. First look: The Pentagon Papers of the Iraq war
In 2005, a U.S. Humvee parks along the parade ground of Baghdad's Processional Way, where Saddam Hussein reviewed his army. Photo: Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images

"Earlier this year, the U.S. Army published two volumes that amount to [an admirably candid] history of the Iraq war," Jon Finer — CFR adjunct senior fellow, and chief of staff and director of policy planning at the State Department under President Obama — writes in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs:

  • "[B]ased on 30,000 pages of newly declassified documents, the study recounts a litany of familiar but still infuriating blunders on Washington’s part."

Why it matters: "Eroding the tenuous consensus on what went wrong in Iraq makes another damaging conflict more likely."

Read Finer's review.

10. 1 ⚾ thing
On Oct. 25, 1986, Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner botches a grounder during Game 6 of the World Series against the Mets. Photo: Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via AP

How's this for a rough first line of the ole obit?

  • "BOSTON (AP) — Bill Buckner, forever known for error in 1986 World Series, dies at 69."

Yes, Buckner was haunted by a missed grounder that became one of the most infamous plays in baseball history.

But 33 years later, columnist Dan Shaughnessy comes to his rescue on the front page of the Boston Globe, "A man defined by a life of grit, then grace":

Buckner’s error became a metaphor for cataclysmic failure, and that was terribly unfair. ...
Bill Buckner had more big league hits than either Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams. He was an All-Star and won a batting title. Playing on ankles that had to be iced almost round the clock, he knocked in 102 runs for the pennant-winning Red Sox in 1986.
He played 22 seasons in the majors and twice made it to the World Series. He was a good teammate and a solid family man. He aged better than most retired athletes and always looked like he could still give you a couple of innings when he’d return to Fenway Park tanned and fit.

Mikey life lesson: We all need a little grit — and grace.

Mike Allen

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