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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Trump administration is about to formally give up on a part of the Affordable Care Act that had largely died on its own.

Driving the news: The Office of Personnel Management intends to stop administering the ACA’s multi-state insurance plans. Axios reviewed a draft of the notification letter OPM is planning to send to congressional leaders.

How it works: The ACA initially envisioned creating 2 multi-state plans — private insurance policies that would be available through the ACA’s insurance exchanges in every state. The goal was to provide guaranteed competition in states that lacked it.

  • But the policy never got off the ground. By 2017, there was just 1 plan operating in just 1 state: a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Arkansas.
  • OPM will tell Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield thanks for its cooperation, but then shutter the multi-state effort, according to the draft letter.

Between the lines: An administration official framed the death of the multi-state plans as a bad omen for "Medicare for All," arguing that it was “a pilot program for the public option, and it’s been a dismal failure with even the most liberal states balking on it.”

  • It’s true that this policy was designed to do some of the same things a public option would have done, and that it failed.
  • But it failed, in part, because its insurers never were very enthusiastic about setting up networks of doctors and hospitals across multiple states — which is also a bad omen for the conservative priority of selling insurance across state lines.

The bottom line: “I've always sort of felt like it was well-intentioned but not reflective of the right reality of what's limiting competition," Georgetown University health policy professor Sabrina Corlette told Axios back in 2017.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.