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The number of procedures taking place in outpatient surgery centers — where people go under the knife and return home the same day — is expected to rise from 23 million in 2018 to 27 million in 2021, according to estimates from consulting firm Bain & Co.

Why it matters: Surgeries in freestanding centers cost less than those that happen in hospital outpatient departments, which is why many insurers and policymakers are pushing for this shift.

The big picture: But that doesn't mean it's an unprofitable niche. Surgery centers would generate $43 billion worth of procedures if those estimates hold up.

Between the lines: Medicare has made it clear it will pay for more surgeries, especially orthopedic procedures like joint replacements, outside of the hospital. Industry giants have been placing their bets on these facilities for years.

  • Health insurers: UnitedHealth Group bought Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion in 2017.
  • Hospitals: Tenet Healthcare and HCA Healthcare each own more than 120 surgery centers, and many not-for-profit hospitals own stakes in their local surgery centers.
  • Private equity firms: Bain Capital, the PE arm that was spun out of Bain & Co., owns two-thirds of Surgery Partners, a surgery center chain that's on pace to collect $1.7 billion of revenue this year.

Go deeper: Health care sees dollar signs in surgery centers

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

5 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.