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!

Teen Covid-19 Hospitalizations On the Rise

 The CDC is calling on parents to vaccinate teenagers against Covid-19, as hospitalizations spike for minors. In the U.S., children aged twelve and up are eligible to receive a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, and Moderna is planning to seek approval for use in teens soon. Only about 24% of kids aged twelve to seventeen have received their first dose. The CDC says that historically, about a third of the teenagers admitted to hospital for Covid-19 were placed in intensive care, and nearly 5% of these patients had to be put on respirators. “Much of this suffering can be prevented,” says CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

Researchers suggest that the current spike in teen hospitalization is probably related to more transmissible virus variants, as well as a rapid discard of many preventive measures such as social distancing, mask wearing, and remote learning as adult vaccination numbers rise.

Health Industry Pushes for Permanent Telehealth Expansion

Health care experts and patient advocates are shouting the benefits of Telehealth and pushing for Congress to preserve expansions of virtual care that were designed to last Americans through the pandemic. Groups as diverse as health insurers, Medicaid officials, and physician organizations are all working together on the cause. Currently, the rules will sunset when the public health emergency is declared over, which is expected at the end of 2021. In the meantime, state legislatures have introduced more than 650 bills pushing to continue the Telehealth expansion.

Physician Shortage Prompts Congress to Consider Education Funding

An impending shortage of primary care doctors has the House of Representatives considering a bill which would increase annual funding of a graduate program aimed at training new physicians and dentists. The legislation would fund 100 new medical education programs across the country, and create 1600 new resident and physician openings.

The United States has been dealing with a shortage of primary care providers for some time, with the Association of American Medical Colleges projecting a shortage of 139,000 physicians by 2033. Filling this gap could result in more screenings that catch potentially life-threatening illnesses.