Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

ACA Changes for 2022 Finalized

Several new proposals for the Affordable Care Act exchanges have been finalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In 2022, ACA user fees will drop to 2.25% of the premium on qualified health plans. State-based exchanges using healthcare.gov will also see fee drops, from 2.25% to 1.75%.

Additionally, CMS aims to nurture more private firm/state partnerships, in what administrator Seema Verma calls “next generation exchanges.” This would enable states to utilize brokers and insurers to sell plans to consumers. Insurers and agency groups have said this move essentially privatizes the healthcare exchange.

Meanwhile, ACA advocates have filed suit against the state of Georgia, which has procured a waiver from the Trump Administration allowing the state to block access to residents for coverage beginning in 2023. The state intends to direct Georgia residents to private insurance brokers who are not required to meet ACA standards for insurance, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Results in “Chaos” Across US

With recent approval to accelerate the vaccination process by accepting seniors, individual state programs across the US are seeing overwhelming demand and crashing systems. The AP reports that states from California to New York are seeing surges in requests for vaccination appointments, overwhelmed computer systems, false availability rumors, and a lack of vaccine to meet the demand. One NYC resident told the AP, “It’s chaos.”

About 3% of the US population have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination. On Thursday last week, President-elect Joe Biden outlined a coronavirus plan that includes speeding up the vaccination rate.

Cigna Gets Results with Integrated Benefits Plans

A new study from Cigna releases findings from two years of analysis on claims made by Cigna customers with employer-provided coverage. The study shows that customers with integrated medical, pharmacy, and behavioral benefits realized savings on healthcare, higher engagement, and improved health outcomes.

In a release, Cigna pointed to several significant findings, including a 25% higher engagement in Cigna lifestyle and wellness coaching, smoking cessation, and counseling. The study also found engaged customers are less likely to have emergency room visits and more likely to utilize in-network providers.

The entire release on the study can be read here.