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!

Surprise Medical Bill Law Advances

 The Biden Administration is implementing consumer protections from legislation passed in 2020, including protecting insured patients against surprise billing in medical emergencies, and unexpected charges from out-of-network doctors at in-network facilities. Protections also include preventing out-of-network service providers from billing the difference between their charge and the insurance payment. The new protections are expected to be in place by Jan 1, 2022.

U.S. Approaches Presidential Goal of 70% Vaccination Rate

President Biden’s updated goal of vaccinating 70% of adults 27 and older may fall short, but the country came close. Abut 64% of adults over 18 have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccination. Twenty states have met the goal, but some are far behind, including states like Florida, where just about 53% of eligible adults have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, lagging vaccination rates have experts worried as the highly-contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 now appears to be spreading rapidly amongst the unvaccinated. Reported Covid-19 cases are up 10% from last week’s 7-day average. Doctors tell NBC News that the Delta symptoms can resemble a cold, and urge those with cold-like symptoms not to brush them off  in case they are infecting more vulnerable people with Covid-19.

Long Waits for Seniors and State Home Health Care Aides

Adding another roadblock to caregiving and seniors, home-based care programs are understaffed and waiting lists are often months long for seniors who need help at home. The shortage is related to low wages and hard working conditions. The CEO of SeniorPlus in Maine told KHN, “We are looking all the time for workers because we have over 10,000 hours a week of personal care we can’t find workers to cover.”

A proposed $400 billion in funding for community-based long-term care services which help elders remain in their homes was pushed out of President Biden’s infrastructure bill in June, with Republicans only willing to fund traditional infrastructure — roads, bridges, etc. — and Democrats vowing that “human infrastructure” will be addressed in future programs. Home care did receive nearly $13 billion in assistance in the American Rescue Plan.