Good morning ... It’s been a long week, but at least it’s Friday.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Consolidation is all the rage right now in health care, and especially among hospitals. But, when consolidation leads to the closure of rural hospitals, it leaves a big void where a community's access to care — and a lot of its jobs — used to be.
Why it matters: 83 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program.
The impact: This is happening right now in Kennett, Missouri, where Community Health Systems is merging a 116-bed hospital, Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, with another facility 50 miles away.
My colleague Bob Herman spoke with some Twin Rivers employees, who helped articulate not just their own anger, but what it's like when this happens in your community.
What they're saying:
Turns out Novartis paid a total of $1.2 million to Essential Consultants, the company operated by Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney.
The details: The company said in a statement yesterday that it had contracted with Cohen for advice about the administration's health policy agenda, figured out after one meeting that he had no such advice to offer, but was stuck in its contract.
The juice: A Novartis employee was a little more blunt in an interview with STAT News:
There are not a lot of voters heading into the midterms focused mainly on health care, but the ones who are, are Democrats. That is the undeniable thrust of the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking poll.
By the numbers:
Yes, but: Policy is not the main thing driving Democrats this cycle. A plurality (30%) said they would vote primarily based on candidates' support or opposition to President Trump.
The bottom line: This poll seems to validate the conventional wisdom: After several years in which health care — namely, opposition to the Affordable Care Act — was motivating Republican turnout, health care is now back to its historical status as an issue that animates the left more than the right.
Here’s Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema with an example of how Democrats will be talking about health care in the midterms: vaguely.
Between the lines: You can reasonably read “fix what’s broken” and “not go back” as an anti-repeal message. Beyond that, it doesn’t offer much of a road map. The real test is whether she and other Democrats will get more specific when they have Republican opponents.
Yes, but: Sinema is a moderate Democrat in a red state. Some more progressive Democratic candidates are, in fact, embracing specific proposals like a Medicare buy-in.
What's on your radar? I'd love to know: email@example.com.