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!

CDC Study Finds Masks, Restaurant Restrictions Affect Covid Spread

As some states ease or lift all coronavirus restrictions, including mask mandates, a CDC study shows that a lift of health restrictions has caused a rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths. The study looked at nearly a year’s worth of data since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March 2020. Findings included increases in case growth and death rate beginning 41-100 days after on-premise restaurant dining was permitted in counties. It also found a decrease in case growth and deaths 20 days after a mask requirement’s implementation.

People Are Going Back to the Doctor – And Insurers’ Costs Rise

Record profits for major health care insurers in 2020 were largely a result of delayed healthcare as people avoided going out in public, or to places where they feared sick people might be gathering, as well as prohibitions on elective or non-emergency treatments. But as 2020 closed with the pandemic still in full swing, patients began to return to their doctors’ offices, and insurers are reporting a jump in claims, along with an accompanying drop in year-to-year profits.

There were also costs for that big fall surge of Covid-19 cases. United Health said care related to Covid-19 was about 11% of all care in the last quarter, compared to 6% in the previous quarter. Axios warns that payers who saw big rebates for overpaying premiums last year shouldn’t expect similar windfalls in 2021.

ACA Sees Overhaul in Covid Relief bill

The American Rescue Plan, as the Covid relief bill is called, has multiple ACA reforms inside, including expansions of tax credits to higher earners and caps on the maximum premiums ACA-qualified plans can charge. Tax credits for lower earning groups would also be beefed up, offering zero-cost premiums for people making less than 150% of the federal poverty line. The bill also includes better incentives for states that expanded Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the measures would allow them to insure 1.3 million more people by next year.