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!

Trials Show Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine 90% Effective

A new two-shot Covid-19 vaccine could be coming to market later in 2021 with American vaccine maker Novavax announcing their vaccine has a 90% effective rate against the virus. The company is dealing with production slowdowns due to material shortages, but plans to seek authorization for use in the US, Europe, and elsewhere by the end of September. The CEO says that most initial shipments will go to low and middle-income countries, where the need for vaccines is dire. And unlike the Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca, and Moderna vaccines, which have stringent handling requirements, the Novavax vaccine is made with lab-grown copies of the Covid-19 spike protein and requires only standard refrigeration — which could make it a boon for global distribution to countries in need.

Enhanced Tax Credit Brings in ACA Sign-Ups

CMS reports that 1.2 million new consumers signed up for coverage on healthcare.gov between February and May, taking advantage of the Biden administration’s special enrollment period and new tax credits. Four in ten are spending $10 or less per month due to the enhanced tax credits. The special enrollment period continues through August 15, 2021.

Backlash Against UnitedHealthcare’s ED Policy Delays Roll-out

Fierce Healthcare reports that UnitedHealthcare’s new emergency department coverage policy, which can allow the insurer to retroactively deny claims it deems non-emergency, has been pushed back until at least the end of the current public health emergency. The policy was meant to take effect on July 1. Provider groups including the American Hospital Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians protested the policy, saying that the “new policy will leave millions fearful of seeking medical care, just as we’re getting hold of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The AHA calls the policy, “part of an unfortunate pattern of commercial health insurers denying care for needed services.”