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Alex Brandon / AP

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to wrangle members from opposite ends of the Republican caucus together to support some revised version of the Senate health care bill, offering both moderates and conservatives new policies to shore up support for the bill.

On the table: More funding to fight the opioid epidemic, revised health savings account policies, potentially getting rid of the repeal of the net investment tax on the wealthy.

Off the table: Undermining pre-existing conditions protections, which could happen indirectly under a plan Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing,

What we're hearing:

  • There's a push to include as much as $45 billion in funding for the opioid crisis, up from $2 billion under last week's bill. This would be a win for moderates like Sens. Rob Portman and Shelley Moore Capito.
  • There's also an effort to add more funding to the state stabilization fund, and to make the funding available sooner to states.
  • There will likely be a provision allowing health savings accounts to be used for premiums. This is a win for conservatives, and could help middle-class people afford their premiums. One aide said the price tag could be around $60 billion, as it would result in lost tax revenue. (HSA contributions aren't taxed.)
  • There's chatter about removing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's 3.8 percent investment tax, which benefits wealthy people. This would free up some extra funding to help coverage levels, and would also help combat the narrative that the bill cuts coverage for the poor to give money to the wealthy.

What's becoming a big problem: Cruz is pushing to allow insurers offering ACA-compliant plans to also offer non-compliant plans, which wouldn't be required to meet the ACA's pre-existing conditions protections or other insurance regulations. Cruz wants to include that in the revised bill to cut the cost of individual insurance, and says sick people could still get subsidies that would protect them from premium hikes.

But that's off the table, senior GOP aides say, because most Republican senators have already decided they don't want to undermine the ACA's pre-existing condition protections in any way.

Go Deeper:

How the Senate health bill would change Medicaid fundingHow premiums would change under the Senate health bill

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
42 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.