Good morning. This is the last edition of Vitals until Jan. 6, meaning we all get a much-needed break.
Situational awareness: Democrats on last night's debate stage didn't use this week's news on the court case threatening the Affordable Care Act to hammer home the same arguments that won them the House last year, to some strategists' dismay.
Today's word count is 638, or a 2-minute read.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The year-end spending bill in Congress epitomizes the power of health care interests, Axios' Bob Herman writes.
The big picture: There are lots of goodies for the industry, while patients will get the worst kind of holiday surprise — more medical bills.
The bill includes some of the usual health care "extenders" — keeping money flowing to rural hospitals and community health centers, and again delaying cuts to hospitals that treat the poorest patients.
The big picture: All of these policies will materially benefit pretty much every sector within an industry that already wields more financial power than ever.
Swing states and red states stand to lose the most if the courts ultimately throw out the Affordable Care Act, according to a new analysis by the Urban Institute.
Why it matters: President Trump and Republican attorneys general could pay a steep political price if they succeed in their quest to kill the law.
Details: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire would see their uninsured rates shoot up by more than 100%.
Bonus: The analysis found that providers also take a financial hit.
Go deeper: The ACA legal fight isn't even close to over
Novartis is giving away about 100 doses a year of the most expensive drug in the world, Zolgensma — a gene therapy that cures children of a deadly disease, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Between the lines: The free drug will be offered via a lottery system, which some patient groups say is inappropriate and unfair, as it fails to account for need.
My thought bubble: This is great news for a lucky few patients, but it's not a long-term solution to the world's issues with access to pricey drugs.
Top executives and researchers from a Florida cancer center were forced out amid problems with a Chinese partnership that could have put American-funded research at risk, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Why it matters: The FBI and other federal agencies are on high alert for potential Chinese theft of American cancer research, and prominent researchers from other institutions have already been forced to step down, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.