Today's word count is 1,234, or a 5-minute read.
Today's word count is 1,234, or a 5-minute read.
Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images
Health care was by far the dominant issue in the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing yesterday for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Axios' Sam Baker reports.
The big picture: After promising for 10 years to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and with a lawsuit pending at the Supreme Court that could do exactly that, Republicans are making a new argument: C'mon, nobody's getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.
Between the lines: The ACA is on the chopping block yet again at the Supreme Court.
Reality check: Republican attorneys general and the Trump administration are asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire law, and will make that case in oral arguments on Nov. 10.
But any time the Justice Department takes a position before the Supreme Court, that position is worth taking seriously. And in this case the Justice Department is telling the court to strike down the whole law, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Strikingly large shares of Black Americans say they would be reluctant to get a coronavirus vaccine — even if it was free and had been deemed safe by scientists, according to a new nationwide survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Undefeated.
Why it matters: The findings reflect well-founded distrust of government and health care institutions, and they underscore the need for credible outreach efforts when a vaccine is distributed, KFF's Drew Altman writes in today's column.
By the numbers: Just 17% of Black American adults say they definitely will get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were determined to be safe by scientists and it was free; 49% said they would not get it.
Between the lines: Vaccine hesitancy in the Black community is rooted in experiences with discrimination and systemic racism.
The bottom line: A vaccine distribution effort that is not coupled with a credible outreach effort in communities of color is likely to fall far short of reaching many of the people who are most at risk.
Health care's third-quarter earnings season has started, and if the quarter is anything like the previous one, the industry will continue to fare relatively well even amid the broader economic turmoil, Axios' Bob Herman writes.
Driving the news: The coronavirus dominated the spring and summer, which forced people to put off care, but people have resumed getting procedures and seeing their doctors.
Between the lines: The second quarter was extremely profitable for health insurers — UnitedHealth Group, for example, posted its highest-ever profit.
Yes, but: The persistent amount of coronavirus cases is no longer stunting all demand for pharmaceuticals, surgeries, medical devices, hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services.
Go deeper: Follow our earnings tracker
Air ambulances owned by private equity firms charge the highest rates — more than seven times what Medicare pays, according to a new analysis by the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.
Why it matters: Air ambulances are frequent sources of surprise medical bills, and even when they're covered by insurance, we all pay for these expensive prices through our premiums.
By the numbers: In 2017, helicopter air ambulances owned by two private equity firms charged, on average, $48,250 — or 7.2 times the Medicare rate.
How it works: Charges aren't what insurers actually pay. But they serve as a starting point for price negotiations, and providers often bill patients for the difference between the charge and what the insurer agrees to pay.
The other side: Air ambulances argue that they must charge privately insured patients more to make up for low government payment rates, and for trips they never get reimbursed for.
The $200 prescription drug discount cards the Trump administration promised to Medicare recipients won't likely reach households by the Nov. 3 goal, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Why it matters: The cards, which Trump announced in late September with little detail, target voters over 65, a group that is crucial to the president's reelection bid, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
By the numbers: If approved by the Office for Management and Budget, it could cost up to $8 billion.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Facebook will ban anti-vaccine ads in an effort to combat misinformation and support public health experts, the social media platform announced in a statement on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the Senate's "first order of business" when it returns on Oct. 19 will be to vote on "targeted relief for American workers," including new funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Johnson & Johnson has paused Phase 3 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, after one patient reported an "unexplained illness." Axios Re:Cap goes deeper with Tom Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2009 and 2017.
President Trump blasted Anthony Fauci's coronavirus response in a Tuesday tweet, saying that the doctor's "pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications."
Editor's note: The chart in the first item in yesterday's Vitals was corrected to show the deaths are per 100,000 people (not deaths per one million people).