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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

What the White House billed yesterday as a high-profile counterpunch to “Medicare for All” turned out to be much less significant — a fairly normal, fairly vague policy statement with no real implications for 2020.

Between the lines: Trump is promoting Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare, and that does matter for the program and the federal budget. But it’s not a new position and not one that has much to do with the broader debate over the American health care system.

What they're saying: "Proposals like Medicare for All, as well as the public options, are not just impractical, they are morally wrong because they would demote American seniors to little better than second-class status," Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma told reporters yesterday.

Reality check: Plenty of what the Trump administration has said is hyperbole, untrue or unknowable. And the policy the administration rolled out has little to do with these big-picture issues.

  • "I think this is the shapings of a political argument for why Medicare for All is bad, not an alternative to Medicare for All," said a health insurance executive familiar with GOP politics.

Details: Yesterday's executive order requires regulatory changes advantageous to Medicare Advantage, which is run by private insurers.

  • "This is not any radical change by the administration, just a continuation of their push to increase flexibilities in MA and increase the supplemental benefits offerings for beneficiaries," said Avalere's Chris Sloan.

Go deeper: How seniors are being steered toward private Medicare plans

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

The week markets went wild

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio

The markets just closed out a manic week.

Why it matters: Outsized — and in some cases historic — moves were evident across the board.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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