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Sen. Orrin Hatch controversially said this week that repealing the Affordable Care Act subsidies and Medicaid expansion is difficult because once you get people "on the dole, they'll take every dime they can."

Reality check: Nearly every American benefits from subsidized health insurance, not just those who gained coverage under the ACA. The largest health care subsidy is the same one that Hatch and millions of others take advantage of: the tax break for employer-based coverage.

Expand chart
Data: Department of the Treasury; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Employer health insurance premiums are exempt from income and payroll taxes, costing the federal government $359 billion in lost tax revenue this year, according to the Treasury Department. That figure is expected to rise to almost $600 billion by 2026.

The ACA attempts to alter job-based health benefits through the so-called Cadillac tax — to the delight of health economists as well as many Republicans and Democrats who want to put a limit on high-cost health plans. But taxing employer-based coverage has proven to be politically unpopular with companies, unions and workers, and House Republicans abandoned plans to limit the tax break in the health care bill the House just passed.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
6 mins ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.