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AP file photo

That's the message of a new analysis by S&P Global, which acknowledges that the Affordable Care Act marketplaces are "fragile" but undercuts the narrative that they're falling apart. The two key sentences:

  • The financial results for Blue Cross Blue Shield plans from 2016, and the enrollment for this year, "show that the ACA individual market is not in a 'death spiral.'"
  • "Every time something new (and potentially disruptive) is thrown into the works, it impedes the individual market's path to stability."

That might be a surprise to everyone who's heard of the double-digit rate hikes for most Obamacare plans last year. But the S&P Global analysts said they've always expected a "five-year path to stability," and that "2016 was year 3." It predicted that there will be more rate hikes for next year, but "at a far lower clip."

Yes, but: That puts them at odds with the Department of Health and Human Services, which circulated statistics earlier Friday showing that premiums and deductibles have been rising since 2014, and insurers have been bailing out.

What insurers will need: Clarity on whether they'll be paid for the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies, whether the Trump administration will enforce the individual mandate, and whether it will advertise next year's enrollment. "If insurers are uneasy regarding the future of the market, they may have to decide between adding an 'uncertainty buffer' to their pricing or — worst case — exiting the exchanges altogether."

Go deeper

Updated 33 mins ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbot (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
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  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.