Situational awareness: Things got very weird last night in Iowa, and we still do not know who won the first Democratic primary of 2020.
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Today's word count is 766, or a 3-minute read.
Sen. Bernie Sanders at his caucus night watch party in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Iowa Democrats reported last night that their biggest priorities were beating President Trump and health care — but the meltdown of their election reporting systems left their presidential choices unresolved.
Why it matters: We've been writing for months that Democrats have a major choice ahead, either picking an advocate of Medicare for All — and siding with the plan that's less popular with the rest of the country — or a public option advocate.
Yes, but: Caucus-goers said they prefer a Democratic candidate who can beat Trump over one that agrees with them on issues, CNN reports.
The big picture: Republicans are more than happy to talk about Medicare for All — and its subsequent tax increases and expanded government role in health care — instead of protecting and building on the Affordable Care Act.
Areas hit hardest by the opioid epidemic still struggle with access to buprenorphine, according to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services' internal watchdog.
Where it stands: The federal government has expanded the list of which providers can prescribe buprenorphine, as well as the number of patients those providers can treat.
Yes, but: Authorizing more providers to prescribe the drug doesn't do much to solve, for example, provider shortages in rural areas. And some providers who are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine just aren't doing so.
The bottom line: Even though we're making progress against the opioid epidemic, we've still got a very long way to go.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Seniors who have supplemental coverage for vision, dental and hearing benefits still pay a lot out of pocket for those services, according to a study published in Health Affairs this week, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
By the numbers: Medicare beneficiaries with coverage overall still had out-of-pocket expenses that made up 70% of their dental spending, 62% of vision spending and 79% of hearing spending, per data taken from the 2016 Cost Supplement to the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey.
Traditional Medicare does not cover those services, but Medicare Advantage plans often do.
Why it matters: Poor vision, oral and hearing health can cause overall general health to deteriorate and can increase emergency department and hospital visits.
China reacted furiously yesterday to a U.S. decision to deny entry to all foreign nationals who had been to China in the past two weeks, denouncing it as a violation of World Health Organization advice that would only spread fear, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.
The big picture: Some public health experts warn that travel bans are ineffective in fighting outbreaks and discourage international cooperation and transparency.
The global picture: Australia is also barring foreigners who recently visited China, and it has evacuated citizens from Wuhan to remote Christmas Island.
Adults in the U.S. are visiting primary care doctors less often, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which could foreshadow worse health outcomes and higher costs.
By the numbers: The study focused on adults enrolled with a large commercial insurer.
Meanwhile, visits to alternative facilities like urgent care clinics increased by 46.9%.
The big picture: Primary care doctors are there to keep people healthy. The less often we go to them, the more likely we are to get or remain sick, which ultimately costs the health care system more money.
Editor's note: The fifth item in yesterday's Vitals was updated to reflect that a coronavirus case was confirmed in Santa Clara County, California, (not Clara County, California).