Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Data: Center on Health Insurance Reforms report; Chart: Axios Visuals

If anyone's incentivized to drive down hospital costs, it's state employee health plans. But that's often not where they're focused, per a new study by Georgetown's Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

Why it matters: Hospital prices are cited most frequently by state plans as their top cost driver, but they're more likely to target other forms of health care spending when it comes to curbing costs.

The big picture: State employee health plans are often the largest employer purchasing insurance in their state, so in theory, should have significant clout when negotiating prices.

  • But plan administrators say it's hard to go after these prices because of a lack of competition between hospitals, hospitals' political clout, and employee pressure to keep broad provider networks.
  • Among the top five cost containment measures reported by states, only one — using "centers of excellence" — could potentially impact hospital pricing.
  • Many plans "focus instead on constraining enrollees’ use of health care services through deductibles and other benefit design strategies," per the report.

Yes, but: There are some states attempting to reign in hospital and physician prices.

  • For example, ten states reported using measures to steer employees toward lower-cost providers, 14 have directly negotiated with providers, and 7 states have or are pursuing initiatives that would set rates or use reference prices.
  • Montana's state employee health plan has pegged hospital prices to Medicare rates and saved the state $47.8 million over three years.

Go deeper

Jun 16, 2021 - Health

Higher prices drove up Medicare drug spending, advisers say

Medicare spent $7.3 billion on blood thinner Eliquis in 2019, before rebates. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The amount Medicare spent on drugs that are dispensed at pharmacies increased 26% from 2013 through 2018, members of the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission wrote in their new annual report.

Why it matters: MedPAC members put the spotlight on pharmaceutical companies, attributing "nearly all of the growth ... to higher prices rather than an increase in the number of prescriptions filled by beneficiaries."

NWA hospital ER admissions up after a year of delayed health care

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Northwest Arkansas hospitals are seeing an increase in the percentage of non-coronavirus emergency room patients with serious health problems, compared to pre-pandemic times, hospital officials tell Axios.

What's happening: People are being admitted to the hospital and/or intensive care unit through the emergency room, largely because they put off seeking health care during the pandemic, Danita Mullins, emergency department director at Washington Regional Medical Center, tells Axios.

2 hours ago - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.