Mar 30, 2017

Sorry, insurers — House isn't dropping the Obamacare subsidies lawsuit

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the House Republican lawsuit against Obamacare's cost-sharing reduction subsidies will go forward, but that the Trump administration can use its "discretion" to keep paying the subsidies until the lawsuit is resolved. "We don't want to drop the lawsuit because we believe in the separation of powers," Ryan told reporters this morning at his weekly press briefing.

Why it matters: Insurers say they need those payments — which cover subsidies for low-income Obamacare customers — to stay in the marketplaces for next year. Ryan said that's up to the Trump administration: "While the lawsuit is being litigated, then the administration funds these benefits. That's how they've been doing it, and I don't see any change in that."

When might that change? Ryan said it could take "months." The Trump administration still has to decide whether to stop fighting the lawsuit. The ideal way to address the payments, Ryan said, is "to repeal and replace Obamacare, and have that transition occur where these markets are stabilized." And where is that? Nowhere, per Jonathan Swan.

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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.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

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.