Mar 6, 2017

Obamacare replacement dead on arrival without Medicaid protection, GOP senators warn

J. Scott Applewhite AP

Four senators from states that expanded Medicaid on Monday said they won't support a bill that takes the same approach to the program as a leaked Obamacare repeal and replacement bill did. This means the House bill set to be released tonight could be dead on arrival.

Sens. Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, Cory Gardner and Lisa Murkowski wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

"The February 10th draft proposal from the House does not meet the test of stability for individuals currently enrolled in the program and we will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states."

But Politico reported shortly before the letter was released that the new version of the House bill will still phase out Medicaid expansion and will transition to a per-person cap on federal Medicaid funding. It will also spend less money over time on the program than under the old version of the bill. This is highly unlikely to solve the senators' problems with the bill.

What the Feb. 10 House bill does:

  • Switches federal Medicaid funding from the current open-ended matching system to the per-person cap.
  • Repeals the expansion in 2020. States could still cover their expansion populations, but would get much less federal money to do so.

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Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.