Good morning … Axios turns 1 today — and, more importantly, we're launching our newest coverage area: international affairs.
What’s new: Around-the-clock coverage of world events relevant to your life and work with a mix of our own reporting and outside experts, like CFR President Richard Haass, who will write on our platform using a cool new tool that allows verified specialists to write directly into our Smart Brevity™ system. See the new stream here.
Congress is once again poised to delay the Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac tax" on high-value employer health plans, and many economists are once again disappointed by the decision.
Between the lines: Messing with employer health coverage is politically treacherous, and that's why the Cadillac tax may never go into effect. But it's one of the ACA's main cost-containment measures — meaning health care costs will keep climbing without a check that economists deem important.
"When you raise cost-sharing, people use fewer services, and that brings health spending down. Unfortunately, people generally cut back on needed care as well as wasteful care. And really annoy workers, which is part of why there’s so much opposition to the tax," Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation tells my colleague Caitlin Owens.
Go deeper: Read Caitlin’s analysis on the Axios stream.
Alex Azar. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
The Senate Finance Committee signed off yesterday on Alex Azar’s nomination for HHS secretary, and he’s also likely to win easy approval on the Senate floor — but there’s a looming government shutdown Congress needs to worry about first.
Will there be a deal, or a shutdown? Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
There is still no deal on the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Democrats are still not yet willing— as a party, anyway — to support a bill keeping the government open if it doesn’t include both a CHIP extension and an immigration deal.
What to watch: In the absence of an immigration deal, the question for now seems to be whether House Republicans can muster enough votes to pass the bill without much Democratic support, then hope to peel off enough moderate and/or vulnerable Senate Democrats.
The medical device industry got positive news from Congress' latest proposed spending bill, which would delay the ACA’s excise tax on its products by 2 years, starting this year.
The details: My colleague Bob Herman spoke with Scott Whitaker, CEO of the medical device lobbying group Advanced Medical Technology Association, at the J.P. Morgan health care conference last week. Whitaker was hopeful a deal would get done in light of the tax overhaul that was just passed.
Get smart: A 2-year delay of the ACA’s medical device tax, from the industry’s perspective, is better than the tax going back into effect. But this will not go away.
Pamela Wible has interviewed thousands of suicidal doctors, and the results are both profoundly sad and incredibly instructive. She keeps a registry of physician suicides (it’s grown beyond 750), and published some broad findings from her conversations recently in The Washington Post.
Go deeper: Read the whole piece here.
Aetna has agreed to pay $17 million to settle lawsuits over the accidental disclosure of patients’ HIV status, AP reports. Plaintiffs say the insurer mailed them confidential information about their health status using envelopes with clear windows that left their health information visible.
What we're watching today: Are they gonna fund the government, or ...
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