Good morning ... Some exciting news: Beginning next week, my colleague Caitlin Owens will be taking over as the lead author of Vitals. As you've probably noticed, Caitlin is one of the smartest and best-sourced health care reporters in Washington. You're in good hands.
I'm not going far — I'll still be writing and editing. And you can help me make this last week of newsletters count by sending your very best tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GOP tax law is padding health care companies' bottom lines, according to my colleague Bob Herman's analysis of newly released financial information from the last quarter of 2018. Overall, the industry's profits were up significantly from the same period a year earlier.
The big picture: The law made it easier to bring home money that was parked abroad. It also eliminated tax provisions that have specifically helped large companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers. But the lower corporate tax rate is the main event.
Between the lines: The tax law aside, the companies that handle the most revenue — like health insurers collecting premiums or drug distributors shipping products — are not the most profitable.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
President Trump expects to lose the big lawsuit over the fate of the Affordable Care Act, Axios' Jonathan Swan scoops.
The intrigue: Swan's sources tell him Trump himself — not his staff — is driving this latest push to raise the stakes in the health care debate.
The catch, of course, is that he's backing a lawsuit that would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and strip away some 20 million people's health care coverage, and Republicans have never agreed on a plan to replace either.
Sen. Rick Scott is one of the 3 GOP lawmakers, along with John Barrasso and Bill Cassidy, whom Trump has said are in charge of coming up with a replacement plan. But he said on CBS' "Face the Nation" yesterday that, "I look forward to seeing what the president's going to put out."
Utah won federal approval on Friday for the first phase of a plan to overrule the state's voters and seek a more limited, more conservative Medicaid waiver that could pave the way for other red states.
Flashback: Utah voters approved a ballot initiative this past November to adopt the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion — expanding eligibility to people with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty limit, paid for mostly by the federal government.
Driving the news: Republicans in the state legislature passed their own version of expansion, rather than implementing the one voters approved. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services signed off Friday on several parts of that plan.
Between the lines: If Utah's version avoids the legal pitfalls that have stymied other states, it'll likely be because this is still technically an expansion, rather than a rollback of an expansion.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The 2020 candidates who can address voters' worries about out-of-pocket health care costs have the best chance of victory, the Kaiser Family Foundation's Drew Altman writes in his latest column.
The big picture: Almost everyone, not just people with a major illness, worries about what might happen if they or a family member get cancer or heart disease or suffer a permanent injury.
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