Andrew Harnik/AP

The first big Obamacare rule from the Trump administration may try to help insurers in some ways, like tightening the enrollment rules and letting them charge older customers more. But a new study out today sends a strong signal about what they really need to stay in the Obamacare markets: They want to be paid back for the subsidies they've paid out to low-income customers.

The study — conducted by Milliman for the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, a group representing safety-net insurers — concluded that there would be "significant losses for many insurers in the individual market" if the Trump administration and Congress don't reimburse them for the cost-sharing reduction subsidies.

Why it matters: The payments are up in the air right now because of a lawsuit House Republicans filed against the Obama administration, arguing that the subsidies were paid illegally because Congress never provided the money for them. A federal judge ruled against the subsidies, and if the Trump administration decides to drop the appeal, the payments could stop.

Key numbers:

  • Customers who got the subsidies in 2014: 3.1 million
  • Payments to insurers: $2.8 billion
  • Customers who got the subsidies in 2015: 5.2 million
  • Payments to insurers: $4.9 billion
  • Customers who got the subsidies in first half of 2016: 5.9 million

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Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.