Good morning ... Hey, remember when we told you that Democrats who support some version of "Medicare for All" seemed to be winning a lot of big primaries? If you weren't quite sure whether that leftward shift was for real, say hello to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
People really like the parts of the Affordable Care Act the Trump administration is trying to get rid of, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking poll.
Health care is a big issue for Democrats. Once again, health care was at the top of the list of voters' biggest concerns — largely because of Democrats. It's their No. 1 issue, while Republican voters said the economy and immigration were more important.
And Democratic candidates know it. Health care was already the focal point in Democrats' midterm messaging, even before the Justice Department renewed the debate over coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services formally asked the industry what it should do with Stark, the federal law that prohibits physicians from referring their Medicare and Medicaid patients to facilities where the doctors have a financial stake.
Driving the news:
The bottom line, per Axios' Bob Herman: This boils down to refining how physicians can steer patients, in a day and age where industry consolidation and accountable care organizations have encouraged narrow networks.
Looking ahead: “It would not be worth going to the trouble of issuing this [request for information] if there were not people at the agency who were quite serious about trying to come up with a regulatory solution,” Janney said.
A bipartisan bill funding the Department of Health and Human Services passed out of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee yesterday, and is scheduled to be marked up by the full committee tomorrow.
The details: Total HHS funding is $90.1 billion, a $2.3 billion increase from last year, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports. This includes:
What we're watching: The House version, which has yet to pass committee, is more partisan: It would eliminate Title X funding and prohibit funding for ACA programs. This would be very unlikely to pass the Senate, where it'd need at least 9 Democratic votes.
Bloomberg has a good look at one of the most significant yet under-appreciated trends in health insurance: the dramatic increase in deductibles, especially within employer-based coverage.
By the numbers: In employer-based health plans, the average deductible for a single person is roughly $1,500, according to Kaiser — almost three times higher than it was a decade ago.
The impact: The trend toward increasingly high deductibles means families can still struggle to afford their care, even with insurance. Bloomberg’s story follows a family who has insurance, but declared bankruptcy twice amid mounting out-of-pocket bills.
What they’re saying: Now, experts are starting to reconsider whether high cost-sharing — once conceived as a way to turn employees into more discerning health care consumers — is working.
Why it matters: This frustration with existing cost-shifting tools — and the growing sense that we’ve basically maxed out their utility — is contributing to the renewed focus on underlying health care prices.
1 proud thing: We’re celebrating — Axios was named “Best Digital News Start-up” at the 2018 North American Media Awards!
What we're watching today: Senate HELP committee hearing on health care costs. Senate oversight committee hearing on Medicaid fraud and overpayments. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Robert Wilkie's nomination to lead the VA.
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