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.)

Go deeper

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

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Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

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