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!

Policy Groups, Unions Petition for End to Surprise Billing

Business and health groups are again asking policy-makers to address surprise billing. The question of payment for out-of-network charges has created contentious lobbying wars in the past. It’s a heated issue which this collection of unions, business groups, and policy institutes want addressed in a coming coronavirus stimulus package.

Providers have pushed back on previous attempts to end surprise billing, which could be replaced by market-based payments for out-of-network charges. But business and policy groups including the American Health Policy Institute want out-of-network charges aligned to in-network prices.

Airborne Risks: Scientists Petition WHO to Revise Recommendations

Is COVID-19 airborne? Hundreds of scientists have signed on to an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) accusing the agency of failing to address the airborne risk of the disease. Scientists from around the world say microscopic “aerosol” droplets are lingering in the air and floating beyond the six-foot safety boundary established for physical distancing. WHO’s virus recommendations have focused on respiratory droplets and, to a lesser extent, contaminated surfaces.

The scientists say aerosol transmission is causing infection in enclosed spaces and poorly ventilated rooms, explaining so-called “super-spreader” events around the world. The scientists cite several studies and suggest that in addition to masks, fighting the infection could include improved ventilation, and purifying air-conditioned air with ultraviolet light.  Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

Fact-Checking Social Media Claims About Masks

Watch out for viral images about the efficacy of masks, Kaiser Health News warns. Their factchecker asked medical experts about widely-shared social media graphics which claim precise percentages of coronavirus transmission risk between people wearing masks versus none at all. The numbers range between a 1.5% chance of COVID-19 transmission between two parties wearing masks and a 70% chance of transmission with a positive individual who is not wearing a mask.

“The data presented is bonkers and does not reflect actual human transmissions,” Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine at University of California-San Francisco, stated. Andrew Lover, assistant professor of epidemiology at University of Massachusetts Amherst, agreed, replying to KHN: “We simply don’t have the data to say this.”

However, the experts did agree the general idea is sound, KHN reports. “In terms of public health messaging, it’s the right message,” Lover said. “As a rule of thumb, the more people wearing masks, the better it is for population health.” Read the full article at Kaiser Health News.

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