Mar 17, 2017

Price previews next Obamacare regulatory steps

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price gave House Republicans a preview of the next regulatory steps he's planning to take to ease Obamacare's rules, which will include more steps to stabilize the individual health insurance market and a measure to soften the law's "essential health benefit" requirements.

Here's what HHS is considering, according to a GOP source in the room:

  • A new market stabilization rule, likely in mid-April.
  • A rule addressing the essential benefits.
  • A measure targeting "direct enrollment, in which an insurance agent logs on to a health insurer's website to help the consumer enroll.
  • Giving states more flexibility to restrict special enrollment and grace periods for paying premiums.
  • A rule to encourage "Section 1332" waivers, in which a state can opt out of some of Obamacare's rules if it can achieve the same goals in different ways.

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Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.