Good morning. Happy Friday. Just kidding, it's only Wednesday, somehow.
Today's word count is 849, or a 3-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
President Trump claimed last night during the State of the Union that he will "always protect patients with pre-existing conditions" — a statement that's misleading at best.
Why it matters: Pre-existing conditions protections are popular, and both parties are trying to claim credit for them. But only one of the parties has a track record of defending those protections, and it's not the GOP.
Reality check: Republicans' repeal and replace efforts in 2017 wouldn't have preserved the same level of protections the Affordable Care Act provides, nor would any of the plans they've put forward since.
The other side: Democratic presidential candidates aren't focused on pre-existing conditions right now.
Between the lines: This sounds much more like Democrats' winning 2018 message than the fight 2020 presidential candidates are having. It also sounds exactly like what we'll probably hear for the rest of the year.
The rest of Trump's State of the Union was filled with stretches of the truth, political jabs and shoutouts to genuine policy accomplishments.
The intrigue: There was no mention of the administration's international pricing index, which would tie the price of some Medicare drugs to what other countries pay and is very controversial among Republicans.
Trump alluded to expanded short-term health plans, saying that "our new plans are up to 60% less expensive — and better."
He touted the administration's transparency rules, saying that they "will save families massive amounts of money for substantially better care."
He repeated the claim that prescription drug prices have gone down for the first time in 51 years — which isn't exactly true, although generics have been driving overall costs down and, as Trump said last night, the administration has approved a record number of generics.
He also slammed Democrats for supporting providing health benefits to undocumented immigrants — another preview of a top 2020 talking point.
Photo: Cavallini James/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Image
There are a dozen research projects underway to try to come up with a vaccine for the Chinese coronavirus, Biocentury reports.
Yes, but: "A vaccine is not a short-term solution controlling this epidemic, but it is an important tool that could control it for subsequent years if this virus continues to circulate in humans," said Andy Pekosz, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Where it stands: Chinese researchers cracked the virus' genetic sequence and shared it with other scientists, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
The coronavirus outbreak has continued its global rampage, but experts are beginning to see signs of improvement in detection and treatment on the horizon, Axios' Dion Rabouin writes.
Driving the news: S&P Global announced Tuesday it expects the crisis will "stabilize globally in April 2020, with virtually no new transmissions in May. Our worst-case projection holds that the virus stops spreading in late May, and optimistically in March."
Yes, but: S&P analysts caution "if the disease is not swiftly brought under control, slower economic growth would exacerbate already weaker fiscal performance in many parts of the Asia-Pacific."
The demand for nurse practitioners has exploded recently, Axios' Sam Baker writes.
By the numbers: According to a study published this week in Health Affairs, the number of nurse practitioners more than doubled from 2010 to 2017, far outpacing the number of new doctors or registered nurses.
Why it matters: These changes are a reflection of broader shifts within the health care system — most notably, the shift from inpatient to outpatient care.
What's next: Nurse practitioners are providing a lot more care — the number of Medicare beneficiaries billed by a nurse practitioner has doubled. And that trend will continue.