Situational awareness: The Trump administration is expected to release its Medicaid block grant program today, per Politico.
Today's word count is 808, or a 3-minute read.
Passengers arriving in Los Angeles on a flight from Asia wear protective masks. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images
The U.S. should be preparing for the worst as the Chinese coronavirus spreads, and somebody at the White House needs to be in charge of coordinating that effort, public health experts tell Axios' Sam Baker.
The big picture: The virus may never become a crisis here, but experts say the responsible thing right now is to plan for the worst and hope that those plans aren't needed.
The catch: The National Security Council official who would have been in charge of leading the response to a pandemic left in 2018, and now no one is around to do the job.
Where it stands: There have only been five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and there are still big unanswered questions about it. The primary goal so far has been to contain the virus.
What's next: Experts say there are a handful of priorities at this stage.
The bottom line: "Don't tell the public that everything's going to be OK, but at the same time, tell the public we're going to get through this," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The largest tech companies are responding to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in two main ways: limiting employee travel to China and trying to make sure their users have access to accurate health information, Axios' Ina Fried reports.
Why it matters: Like the virus itself, the spread of misinformation is hard to slow.
On the content front, Google, Facebook and Twitter are all taking steps to promote verified information.
Go deeper: The new age of global pandemic risk
The U.S. has the highest suicide rate among wealthy nations, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund.
Between the lines: That's potentially because of our high rates of mental illness, inadequate mental health screening, low investments in social services and the cost of mental health care, the researchers said.
Go deeper: Mental health coverage is getting worse
While Democratic presidential candidates are deeply divided between Medicare for All and a public insurance option, Democratic voters seem to be cool with either one, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
The big picture: Sizeable majorities of both Democrats and independents in the Kaiser poll said they approve of a single national health insurance system, and larger majorities said they like the idea of a public program competing alongside private insurance, Sam writes.
Between the lines: Big majorities expect their taxes to go up under either plan, but still seem ready to accept that trade-off.
Sam's thought bubble: Consider these results in the context of Sen. Bernie Sanders' rise in 2020 polling.
Novartis said yesterday that Zolgensma — the gene therapy that's the most expensive drug in the world — brought in $186 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, STAT reports.
Why it matters: It suggests that the drug's enormous price tag isn't blocking patients from accessing it, although the costs are ultimately borne through premiums and by taxpayers.
By the numbers: About 200 patients have been treated with Zolgensma since it launched in June, Novartis said.