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AP file photo

Here's one of the next things to watch now that Trumpcare is stalled: look for more states to set up their own reinsurance programs, and apply for special Obamacare waivers that could help them get federal funds. It's similar to the latest idea Republicans are considering to revive Trumpcare, but if Congress isn't going to get its act together, states have a lot more incentive to move on their own.

The back story:

  • The idea is to give health insurance companies extra funds if they get a lot of expensive patients so they don't have to raise premiums through the roof.
  • Alaska did it on its own to head off a 42 percent rate increase, and now it's applying for one of the waivers to get federal support to expand the program. Minnesota is about to launch its own program.
  • "I'd venture to say that half the states know about it and are considering it," said Joel Ario, managing director of Manatt Health and a member of the Axios board of experts.
  • Another reason the idea could take off: Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price is actively encouraging it. He invited states last month to apply for Obamacare "state innovation waivers," which free them from some of the law's rules if they can cover people in different ways.
  • One idea he singled out: "high-risk pool/state-operated reinsurance programs."

Bottom line: "It's one of the few bipartisan things out there," Ario said.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.