Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Steve Cannon / AP

Now that the House has acted (and left town), the Congressional Budget Office has to find a useful way to estimate what will happen with the state waivers in the health care bill — more useful than the way it has tried to predict state decisions in the past. And we need a better sense of what the governors are planning to do.

Here's what we ought to be looking for:

CBO has a different job: It can't be useful if it does its usual scoring, because the number of people likely to lose what it defines as comprehensive insurance depends wholly on which states, if any, opt to seek waivers to allow insurers to underwrite for pre-existing conditions and/or cut back on essential benefits. (The waivers were created by Rep. Tom MacArthur's changes to the first bill.)

Instead, it should provide a series of scores based on hypothetical scenarios of which states seek the waiver. For example, one score would guess that Texas, Florida, and other southern states would seek a waiver, perhaps by assuming that all those that opted not to expand Medicaid would allow the waiver.

Then it could project how many more people nationally would lose comprehensive insurance because they cannot afford the rates to be charged in the high risk pools, versus how many more healthy people would opt to get insurance because the rates in the regular pool get lower as a result of the sick being kicked out.

That would then also allow CBO to project how much lower those non-high-risk rates would be.

A second score would assume that no state opts to allow waivers (because the political pressure on governors not to pull the trigger — both from voters and the state's hospitals and doctors — is likely to be so strong).

A third score might assume that just the most conservative governors — perhaps Greg Abbott in Texas and Rick Scott in Florida — seek waivers.

The CBO faced a similar dilemma in July 2012, after the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of expanding Medicaid. In reissuing an estimate of how many people would now be covered by Medicaid and what it could cost, CBO declined to sketch multiple scenarios, or to predict which states would do what.

Instead the auditors vaguely cited "many factors that states are likely to take into account," and projected that only one third of the Medicaid-eligible population would end up being fully covered, half would end up being partially covered, and only a sixth would not get coverage at all.

This time, a state-by-state projection seems doable because the "factors" and the decision are so binary.

Besides, the CBO's post-Supreme Court estimate was simply an update to a law already passed, not guidance for how Congress should vote. They need to do better this time. If CBO doesn't do that multi-tiered estimate, the Kaiser Family Foundation or some other non-partisan group ought to.

Which reminds me: Why aren't reporters going state by state to see which governors, if any, will touch the new third rail of politics — eliminating the pre-existing condition restriction?

Which, in turn, demonstrates the illogic of the explanation some Republicans gave for switching their positions and voting for the bill because, they said, they were now satisfied that it would lower premiums and deductibles for most by putting those with pre-existing conditions into the high risk pools.

Does Republican John Faso of New York really think Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is going to seek a waiver? If not, how does the new bill lower premiums and deductibles? Same question for New Jersey's Rodney Frelinghuysen. Did he switch his position because he thinks Chris Christie, who expanded Medicaid, is going to seek a waiver?

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas case, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.