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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The White House hasn't weighed in on how to resolve the debate over surprise medical bills, but Joe Grogan, head of the Domestic Policy Council, had some choice words about ads being run by private equity-backed groups:

What they're saying: "The advertisements that are targeting members on this and are being run by the private equity groups who are using the arbitrage on surprise medical billing should make every American and member want to puke," Grogan told Axios.

  • "It is vile the way they buy these groups and they prey on people.”

The backdrop: Although he didn't name Doctor Patient Unity, the group has become infamous for spending more than $28 million on ads opposing what was, over the summer, Congress' leading approach to the issue.

  • NYT reported in September that the group's largest financial supporters are TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, which are backed by private equity. The firms have generated large numbers of surprise bills.
  • Doctor Patient Unity's broadcast ads have been focused on areas where senators are running for re-election in 2020.

The other side: "Doctor Patient Unity represents tens of thousands of doctors across the country who understand the importance of preserving access to life-saving medical care," said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the group.

  • "We have been strong supporters of legislation that ... protects patients from surprise medical bills through independent dispute resolution," he added.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

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