Good morning ... Fun fact: The U.S. military is tracking more than 13,000 pieces of “space debris.”
Repealing the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate followed through on a long-time GOP campaign pledge. It also will contribute to substantial premium hikes, which will likely be finalized in October. So, how will Republicans square that circle in the midterms?
They're leaning in, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports. They're planning to campaign aggressively on the fact that they repealed the mandate, hoping that voters will simply blame the ACA for the next round of premium hikes or that the policy was simply so unpopular that Democrats' attacks won't stick.
The other side: Embracing the death of the mandate does have some risk, at least for Republicans from blue or purple districts.
Go deeper: Caitlin has more on the GOP's strategy at Axios.com.
Chinese venture capital firms pumped $1.4 billion into U.S. biotech companies just in the first quarter of this year — totaling 40% of all the money those companies raised, according to Bloomberg. That’s a staggering increase from the first quarter of last year and there are no signs of a slowdown.
The details: China is the world’s second-largest market for prescription drugs (behind the U.S.), and the government recently announced policy changes that freed up a lot more government-backed investment in biotech.
The bottom line, per Bloomberg: “By allowing more investment in U.S. biotechnology companies, the country can gain earlier and easier access to novel therapies typically brought to market first in the West — and share in the potential high returns that can come with them.”
My colleague Bob Herman took another lap through UnitedHealth Group’s earnings call from earlier this week and spotted this quote from Brian Thompson, the head of corporation's Medicare division.
Thompson was asked about the extremely favorable Medicare Advantage pay raises for 2019:
Reality check: The government paid MA plans $210 billion in 2017, and UnitedHealth had a decent share of that pie.
A handful of new health care CEO pay disclosures came out in the past week, and Bob tallied up the 2017 numbers based on actual realized stock gains.
Note: Last week, Bob reported Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ pay ratio was 371:1. The company took issue with that number.
What we're watching today: FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb speaks at a conference of pharmacy benefit managers (agenda).
Senate Finance Committee hearing on opioid abuse in Medicare and Medicaid (livestream).
Invitation: For our readers in Chicago Monday, you're invited to join Mike Allen for a conversation with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how he's preparing Chicago for a season of unprecedented innovation and automation. This event is free and open to the public — please register here!
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