Good morning. Today's word count is 919 words, or ~3.5 minutes.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Premiums are going down and competition is going up as we head into the next Affordable Care Act enrollment period, Axios' Sam Baker reports.
The big picture: Those are both good signs. But those metrics are improving, in part, because they got so much worse over the past several years.
By the numbers: The average premium for a 27-year-old, for a middle-of-the-road plan, will be 4% lower in 2020 than it was this year, the Health and Human Services Department announced yesterday.
Yes, but: These lower premiums and increased competition will benefit people who get federal help paying their premiums, but unsubsidized consumers have fled the market and aren’t likely to come back.
Sam’s thought bubble: The Affordable Care Act is neither collapsing nor thriving. It is, like all of us, hangin’ in there.
Biogen was a shattered biotech company in March after it pulled the plugged on its new Alzheimer's drug, but it recaptured Wall Street's good graces by looking at its data again and deciding to shoot for FDA approval after all, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Reality check: Alzheimer's affects almost 6 million Americans, and those patients and their families have desperately sought an effective treatment. But independent experts have not reviewed Biogen's data, and the industry isn't exactly on good footing right now when it comes to being forthright about its data.
What they're saying: Many stock traders are skeptical of Biogen's new Alzheimer's claims, Stat reported.
Yes, but: That skepticism doesn't mean the drug won't get FDA approval.
The big picture: The public should always be skeptical of drug company data and claims — especially with this drug, and in the industry's current state.
A nursing company controlled by private equity firms left a trail of injury reports and seven child deaths last year as it pushed to maximize its profits, Bloomberg News reports, citing inspection reports, internal documents and interviews from former employees.
The big picture: "Home health care is considered an especially promising private-equity investment because it can save on expensive hospital stays, while generating revenue for years," according to Bloomberg.
The company, Aveanna Healthcare, is controlled by private equity firms Bain Capital and J.H. Whitney Capital Partners, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
The other side: Aveanna said deaths were rare and cited surveys of thousands of patient families that said 97% were satisfied with their care.
Some states and school systems are letting students stay home for mental health reasons in light of rising youth anxiety, depression and suicide rates, the Washington Post reports.
Why it matters: The suicide rate for people ages 10 to 24 increased by 56% between 2007 and 2017, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this month.
Details: Utah and Oregon have enacted laws allowing mental health days, and students in Colorado, Florida and Washington are pushing similar bills.
The other side: The laws didn't pass without controversy. Some lawmakers argued that students need to toughen up or that the new rules could affect athletics or absenteeism.
Go deeper: Why we're failing to stop teen suicide
Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Ambulance services are closing in record numbers across rural America after failing to make ends meet, leaving 60 million Americans at risk of having no help in a medical emergency, NBC News reports.
The big picture: Some states are giving money to emergency medical services, but experts say it's not enough to solve the problem.
Between the lines: This is partially a staffing issue — which also drives the rural doctor shortage.
The issue is compounded by rural hospital closures. Ambulances have to transport patients farther than they did before.
Go deeper: The plight of America's rural health care
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