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!

Study Finds ACA Reduced Income Inequality

A new study finds the Affordable Care Act has reduced income inequality by more than 10% in 2019. People in the bottom tenth percentile of income who enrolled in an ACA plan saw incomes increase by nearly 20% on average. The study was backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the United States’ largest health-focused philanthropy organization. Published in Health Affairs, the authors of the study argue that their results should be considered as the Supreme Court considers arguments to abolish the ACA.

COVID-19 Makes Health, Well-Being an HR Priority

A majority of benefits leaders have prioritized health and well-being for their employees in the wake of COVID-19, according to a study by Artemis Health. The study polled 300 leaders from large firms and found double-digit increases in the number of employers who placed bettering employee health and well-being as their top goal of 2020. There was also a drop in the number of leaders who said they were motivated by saving the company money.

In a statement, Artemis Health CEO Grant Gordon said, “Employers increasingly recognize the role they play in an employee’s physical and mental well-being.” He stressed the use of benefits analytics to get a better idea of how gaps in employee benefits, opportunities to improve well-being, and managing high costs.

HHS Extends Public Health Emergency Through April 2021

In the fourth such extension, the Department of Health and Human Services has extended the public health emergency relating to COVID-19. The declaration of emergency allows the agency to extend assistance to hospitals and providers. Some assistance comes in the form of waivers, such as ongoing loosened requirements for Telehealth coverage. Many emergency provisions tied to relief bills and interim rules will sunset when the public health emergency is allowed to expire or is canceled.