Good morning … Let's get one thing straight right here, right now, forever: Health care is two words. If the AP wants to try to change its style on this, I will not follow. I will remain on the side of the light, and I hope you will, too.
The House and Senate are on their way toward reconciling the differences between their two tax bills, as they head toward final passage. Here are the health care provisions they need to square:
Collins' demands: Sen. Susan Collins demands three things in return for going along with repeal of the individual mandate:
Threat level: Collins' demands will be the heaviest lift, and some of them — particularly her reinsurance fund — may never be possible. But, at least for now, none of this seems likely to derail the tax overhaul, or even slow it down.
John Baackes, CEO of the safety net L.A. Care Health Plan, which covers 2 million Medicaid and marketplace enrollees, spoke with my colleague Bob Herman yesterday about the ACA's individual mandate and what would happen if the GOP tax bill eliminates it.
The bottom line: Baackes' remarks are another indication that if the tax plan repeals the individual mandate, Republicans almost certainly will have to tackle health care again — and soon.
The individual mandate is unpopular, and repealing it is therefore popular. But, as Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman explains in his latest Axios column, the numbers start to shift once people gain a greater understanding of what repealing the coverage requirement really means.
When people know how the mandate actually works, and are told what experts believe is likely to happen if it's eliminated, most Americans oppose repealing it in the tax plan.
Why it matters: People will learn about these impacts sooner or later, and Kaiser's polling also suggests they'll blame Republicans for disruption in the health care market.
CVS CEO Larry Merlo and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini have been making the rounds, explaining why they believe the merger of their two health care companies will be good for everyone.
They've rarely addressed how Amazon played into their decision, although multiple reports have suggested that the e-commerce giant's pending jump into the industry played some role in their thinking.
Get smart: Amazon is an economic force to be reckoned with, but Bob notes that this deal is just as much about Aetna and CVS finding new ways to make money. What are the easiest ways to get there?
"Facility fees" are driving a staggering increase in spending on emergency room care. That's the central takeaway from the first installment in Vox's in-depth investigation of ER billing.
The gritty details, per Vox:
Why it matters: As Vox's Sarah Kliff notes, the Obama administration tried to level out facility fees, so that hospitals wouldn't make more money when cases were classified as complex. But that rule never got off the ground — another reminder that one person's cost control is another person's pay cut.
What we're watching this week: Negotiations on a bill to stop the government from shutting down on Friday, including progress on the Children's Health Insurance Program. Negotiations on the tax bill. Senate HELP Committee hearing Thursday on implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act.
What's on your agenda? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.