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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price told a House subcommittee this morning that he's OK with President Trump's proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health, because they might help the federal government get "a bigger bang for our buck." And he promised to "uphold the law" on Obamacare, but insisted that "the current law has harmed many individuals" and said he'll look for ways to let insurers provide cheaper coverage.

Read on for the highlights of his testimony on the administration's HHS budget proposal.

  • Defended Trump's proposed 19 percent cut to NIH: "I think what the budget is trying to do … is bring focus to the kinds of things we need to do to get a bigger bang for our buck."
  • Said he wants to support young medical scientists, but was "struck by the need for efficiencies and decreasing duplication" at NIH."The American people need to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely."
  • His approach to Obamacare: "What we believe is important is for every American to be able to choose the kind of coverage they want" — but he will "carry out the law of the land."
  • On enforcing Obamacare's individual mandate: "So long as the law is on the books, we at the department are obliged to uphold the law."But wouldn't commit to making Obamacare's cost-sharing payments to insurers while a lawsuit is in progress: "I'm a party to that lawsuit, and I'm not able to comment."Wouldn't commit to advertising Obamacare during the next enrollment season.
  • Suggested he's looking for ways to allow insurers to provide cheaper coverage: "The administration is committed to making sure the American people have access to affordable coverage."Says the insurers he has met with "aren't certain … how they're going to be able to continue to provide coverage, and that's what we're concerned about."But indicated to Rep. Barbara Lee that he'll still enforce the "essential benefit" requirements: "If your question is what's the law, we're committed to carrying out the law of the land."

Go deeper

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.