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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: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."