The issue:

Premium increases are central to the repeal debate. Republicans cite increases as evidence that the marketplaces are in a "death spiral"; supporters insist taxpayer-financed subsidies keep plans affordable and the spike was a one-time deal.

The facts:

Premiums for "benchmark" plans in Obamacare marketplaces increased by an average of about 22% for 2017, a big jump compared to average rate increases in 2015 and 2016 of 2% and 7%. And while almost three-quarters of enrollees can find a plan costing less than $75 per month, that means the government makes up the rest of the cost through subsidies.

Why this matters:

Though private analysts say double-digit spike was likely a one-time event — because insurers needed to make up for setting their premiums too low at first, and Obamacare's main risk mitigation programs have expired — the hikes gave the GOP new leverage to call for the gutting of Obamacare. As they carry out their plans to repeal and replace the law, they're countering accusations of creating chaos by saying the law was failing anyway. (Irony alert: it's now possible that premiums will increase again next year because of the uncertainty over Obamacare repeal.)

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After grilling the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple last week, members of Congress are grappling with whether to accuse any of the firms of illegal anticompetitive behavior, to propose updating federal antitrust laws — or both.

The big picture: Congress is just one arm of government making the case against these companies. Google is expected to be the first of the firms to face possible antitrust litigation from the Justice Department before summer's end, but all four face a full-court press of investigations by DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


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The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.