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!

Interstate Health Care Disrupts Local Providers

Pandemic-related increases in Telehealth have allowed some large healthcare companies to expand across state lines, and it’s worrying local providers. Kaiser Health News reports that many rules limited Telehealth which were temporarily relaxed during the initial 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns have become long-term or permanent. This has allowed large providers to begin or expedite expansion plans, offering virtual care in states where they don’t have a physical foothold.

These large providers can siphon private insurance payers away from local healthcare groups, who then lose those patients’ necessary subsidizing of Medicaid patients. Hazelden Betty Ford, a Minnesota-based company, is making inroads across Montana, putting the state’s largest behavioral health provider at risk of losing patients. But Hazelden Betty Ford’s VP of business development says that they’re just creating a larger marketplace. Read more at KHN.

Pharmacists Request Permission to Pool Vaccines

Covid vaccination efforts are receiving a new push from pharmacists, who say there’s often half a dose left in the Pfizer and Moderna vials after the measured vaccine doses have been pulled. With two million doses per day being administered in the U.S., combining these half-doses could add thousands of new vaccinations. Now, some pharmacists and the governors of Colorado and Oregan have all sought permission from the FDA to use a single hypodermic needle to draw leftover vaccine from more than one vial to create a full dose.

However, the CDC, FDA, and some medical associations aren’t supportive of the practice. Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines do not include antibacterial preservatives, which some experts say creates a risk of swapping contaminants between vials. Others point out that the vaccines’ quick journey from cold storage into a patient’s arm wipe out the potential for bacterial contamination. Read more at KHN.

Cash Incentives for Covid Vaccines?

Some companies are giving employees extra incentive to get their Covid-19 vaccinations. Retailers such as Lidl, Trader Joe’s, and Dollar General — who notably have been open and whose employees have been considered “essential workers” throughout the pandemic — are offering cash payments or bonus payroll hours for employees who get immunized. Other companies are offering paid leave or even requiring the vaccine from new employees. United Airlines is seeking to make Covid vaccination mandatory.

The reason? Companies want to open up shop and return to business as usual, but the process of requiring vaccines could be a complicated legal battle, and varies from nation to nation. So multi-national firms are taking the easy way around the issue: get a Covid jab, get paid. It’s the latest wellness incentive.

Not only that, but CEOs are stepping up as vaccination ambassadors, trying to lead by example and make public statements touting the potential of the Covid vaccine to improve everyone’s health, safety, and lives. Read more at EBN.