Good morning. "Bachelor" fans, we've got a lot to discuss, beginning with the question of whose side you're on in the Champagne Crisis.
For the rest of you, we'll get right to it: Today's word count is 963, or a 4-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Axios' Bob Herman will bring you the inside scoop from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week, beginning with this odd juxtaposition:
What they're saying: "The number one cause of personal bankruptcy is our industry," Intermountain Healthcare CEO Marc Harrison, who is recovering from cancer treatment, said in one of the conference's opening sessions. "We have an absolute responsibility to make health care as affordable as possible."
The big picture: Health care's high prices, especially for hospital services, eat away at everyone's paychecks and cause large out-of-pocket burdens. But health systems mostly haven't made a dent in changing those affordability concerns.
Go deeper: A reality check on hospital beds.
Want to hear more about what happened at the health care's cornerstone financial conference? Bob was running around and pulled out these nuggets.
Humana's cheering the death of the ACA tax.
Drug pricing pressure isn't going away.
Methodist is "done with that conversation" over collections.
The gene therapy pipeline contains several drugs that are likely to cost the health care system billions of dollars in the near future, according to an a new CVS white paper.
The big picture: Drugmakers are already having to come up with creative ways to get paid for high-cost drugs, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, and that's before these new gene therapies hit the market.
Why it matters: These therapies will provide medical miracles to patients who have long gone without cures for debilitating diseases. Some may even save money in the long run, compared with the cost of lifelong treatment.
What's next: CVS is developing an additional insurance product that it says will help small employers guard against this, among other solutions it outlined in the white paper.
The bottom line: Policymakers are stuck on how to deal with existing prescription drug prices, but the private market is beginning to at least grapple with how it will handle the cost of future drugs.
Go deeper: Gene therapies' accessibility problem
The Affordable Care Act's insurance market has not been materially affected by the elimination of the individual mandate penalty, the Kaiser Family Foundation's Drew Altman writes in today's column.
Why it matters: That fact undercuts a key argument in the lawsuit urging the courts to strike down the health care law.
The big picture: Healthy enrollees have not left the market in droves, premiums have not spiked and there has been no market death spiral.
Details: Premiums spiked in earlier years, as insurers figured out the market and anticipated the elimination of the penalty, but are declining by an average of 2–3% in 2020.
Flashback: ACA historians will remember that many critics of the mandate believed the penalty was too weak to drive the healthy into the marketplaces from the start.
There are still well-documented problems in the individual market.
The share of Americans who say it's important to vaccinate children has fallen from 94% to 84% since 2001, according to a new Gallup survey.
The big picture: Misinformation about vaccines is still rampant — 46% of those polled said they weren't sure whether vaccines cause autism, despite numerous studies showing no apparent link, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted December 2-15, 2019 with a random sample of 1,025 — adults, ages 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.