Aug 15, 2017

Wellmark under fire for discriminating against hemophilia patients

Seth Wenig / AP

Hemophilia groups filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday against health insurer Wellmark for preventing patients with the disorder from accessing coverage under the Affordable Care Act to avoid paying the expensive medical bills, per Washington Examiner.

The complaint, filed by the National Hemophilia Foundation, the Hemophilia Federation of America and Hemophilia of Iowa, claims that Wellmark discriminated against patients with hemophilia — which keeps blood from clotting, and can require expensive infusions of protein — first by limiting coverage to only certain counties in Iowa, and later by stating it was pulling out of the Iowa marketplace altogether in 2018.

Why it matters: The groups argue that Wellmark's actions could open the door for other insurance agencies to dodge paying for pre-existing illnesses.

Wellmark's defense: The agency has pointed to one patient with hemophilia, whose care reportedly costs $1 million a month, to highlight the problems facing the Iowa individual health insurance market. Wellmark has also stated that it would consider re-entering Iowa's ACA exchange if the state approves the agency's proposal for a federally-funded reinsurance program, which would help manage the steep medical costs.

Big picture: The case shows the underlying struggle health insurers face to fulfill the ACA's goal of covering sick people instead of separating them out into high-risk pools. Looking ahead, insurers will likely pressure Congress for changes to help them absorb the costs of expensive patients more easily.

Go deeper: Axios' David Nather covered Iowa's $12 million patient in a June version of his Vitals newsletter.

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Joe Biden places second in Nevada caucuses, ahead of Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden a Nevada Caucus watch party in Las Vegas on Saturday. Photo: Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden secured second place in the Nevada Democratic caucuses with former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg third, according to NBC News projections Sunday.

By the numbers: With almost 88% of precincts reporting, Biden has 20.9% of the Nevada votes and Buttigieg has 13.6%.

Flashback: Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.