Good morning ... President Trump dropped in some unplanned candor about the midterms as he addressed a Susan B. Anthony List gala last night.
"Your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016," Trump said. "Although I'm not sure I really believe that, but you know. I don’t know who the hell wrote that line. I'm not sure. But it's still important. Remember that."
Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
As promised, the Health and Human Services Department has officially released new regulations that would cut off federal family-planning funds to any entity that performs abortions. That includes — but is not limited to — Planned Parenthood.
How it works: The policy, in its own words, "would prohibit recipients from using Title X funds to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning."
What to watch: There will be a lengthy back-and-forth of revisions and public comments before these rules are finalized. But abortion-rights advocates will be suing over this policy any minute now, touching off what will surely be a protracted and intense legal battle.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Not-for-profit hospitals are paying bankers, lawyers and other financial advisers hundreds of millions of dollars every year to help them with a relatively routine task: issuing debt.
Why it matters: Collecting debt fees from hospitals is a steady source of money for Wall Street interests like Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. But those costs could encourage hospitals to chase revenue through higher prices, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
By the numbers:
What they're saying: "Everyone likes to have the newest and fanciest toys. It might allow hospitals to attract doctors or reputation. Whether you’re getting improved effectiveness is an open question," said Thad Calabrese, a professor at NYU Wagner who studies nonprofit finances.
Go deeper: Bob rounds up the most notable transactions.
The growth in health care costs for employer-based coverage is still pretty well under control, all things considered, according to the latest installment of the Milliman Medical Index — one of the most widely respected measurements of those costs.
Employees are paying more: Milliman confirms a trend that others have reported, as well — employers are keeping their costs in check partly by pushing more of the total bill onto employees. That comes through higher employee premiums as well as increased cost-sharing (like higher deductibles).
One number you'll hear about again: Prescription drug coverage got 6% more expensive last year — down from double-digit growth rates a few years ago, when new and expensive hepatitis drugs came on the market.
Every fight over the Affordable Care Act — or over Medicaid, or over which section of Medicare certain prescription drugs belong in — is a reminder of the bigger truth about the U.S. health care system: It's really a patchwork.
One big question we hear a lot from people who are just trying to use the U.S. health care system: Why is it like this?
Here's an answer. Together with the Axios Visuals team, we put together a look at how the U.S. system developed and why it doesn't provide the same kind of safety net other countries have. All in less than two minutes.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
As the worst addiction crisis in American history has shifted from prescription painkillers to heroin and now to illegal synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the death toll and drug dealers' profits have risen together.
Some startling numbers from a Bloomberg dive into the fentanyl supply chain:
Fentanyl is incredibly potent. So a little bit of raw supply can go a long way. And it’s synthesized unpredictably, making it hard to know how much you’re taking (and thus more likely to overdose).
“The two countries play by different rules,” Markos Kounalakis, a visiting fellow at Stanford University, told Bloomberg. “What’s bad for America is not necessarily bad for China.”
What we're watching today: The Senate HELP Committee considers a bill on pandemic preparedness (10am; livestream). Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing on reauthorizing the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education program (10:15am; livestream).
What we're watching this week: Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday on rural health care. Also on Thursday, the panel will consider John Bartrum's nomination to be HHS assistant secretary for financial resources.
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