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Updates For Brokers & Employers

January 12, 2022

To Our Valued Clients and Partners,

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to our newest clients joining us for the first time.  We hope that you find our monthly newsletter relevant and informative. We trust that your new year is off to a great start and we look forward to serving you and your people in 2023.
 

On Monday, our offices will be closed so we can honor Dr. Martin King, Jr., and all that he contributed to our country. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a person who lived his life in service to others.  He was quoted as saying: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?' ". We encourage our employees and everyone to consider using Monday to do something for someone else or get inspired to look for volunteer opportunities that align with community causes you care about in 2023.

COVID-19 Update:

COVID-19 Mandates Extended Under the Public Health Emergency

On January 11th, the Biden administration extended the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) for another 90 days. The administration also reiterated that it is committed to providing a 60-day notice to states that it will end the emergency. That means that by this time next month we will know if early indicators pan out about this being the last PHE extension. We have received the first indication from the tri-agencies that the rules under the Public Health Emergency affecting your health plan will begin winding down in April of 2023. If you have not completed the COVID change form yet, please do so and return to your Account Manager as soon as possible.

 As a reminder, here is how this mandate affects your health Plan:  

  • COVID-19 Testing. Group health plans are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests, both in-network and out-of-network, as well as the cost of up to eight (8) over-the-counter test kits per month at no cost-share.  

  • COVID-19 Vaccinations. Non-grandfathered Group Health Plans are required to cover the cost of administering COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots at no cost-share.  

This mandate is separate from the mandates under the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic, which includes, among other things: (1) special enrollment timeframes, (2) claims and appeals filing deadlines, (3) COBRA qualifying event and (3) enrollment deadline extensions. The National Emergency is currently scheduled to expire in February of 2023; however, we speculate that this date could also be extended.

At Home COVID-19 Test Kits Receive Expiration Date Extensions from the FDA

Is it safe to use expired at-home over the counter COVID-19 diagnostic test kits? The FDA has indeed extended the expiration dates for some home tests. Following the directions for using the table at this FDA link to find out if your test has an extended expiration date. 

Home COVID-19 tests kits are readily available through most major pharmacies and in Washington State residents may order additional free COVID-19 home test kits from the WA Department of Health’s “Say Yes, COVID Test” Program. Additionally, throughout the national COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, health plans must continue to cover up to eight COVID-19 home tests each month for each plan member. 

Vaccines and Boosters

Last month the CDC updated its vaccine and booster recommendations to include the FDA’s latest emergency use authorizations for bivalent booster administration.

Current CDC eligibility for the bivalent boosters is recommended for:
 

  • For everyone aged 5 years and older if it has been at least 2 months since your last dose.
  • For children aged 6 months–4 years who completed the Moderna primary series and if it has been at least 2 months since their last dose.

There is no booster recommendation for children aged 6 months–4 years who got the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine primary series.

Updated (bivalent) Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine also became available on December 9, 2022 for children aged 6 months–4 years to complete the primary series.

Trends and Variants

The CDC’s reported U.S. weekly new COVID-19 case count as of January 11th is at 471K new cases per week, which has remained relatively flat for the last five weeks but is a sliver of the 5.48 million new cases reported per week one year ago. For more details, please visit the CDC COVID Data Tracker: Compare Trends Across States and Regions.

As we have seen over the last year, new COVID-19 variants are again emerging and increasing in proportion each week. The latest variants to rise over the last month are BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and XBB.1.5.. Collectively, these three variants have grown from less than 6% of reported cases from the week ending October 8th, to 29% of cases for the week ending November 5th, to 52% of cases for the week ending December 3rd, to 84% of cases for the week ending January 7th.

As XBB.1.5 becomes the dominant omicron variant, the World Health Organization on January 11th recommended mask-wearing for long-haul travel and school districts in high case rate counties across the country are also recommending mask-wearing as students return to classrooms following the holiday breaks.

We’re Here for You 

Our focus, dedication, and support remain steadfast as we navigate these unique times with you. Thank you for your continued trust in our organization. We are in this with you and hope that you and yours stay safe and healthy. Please reach out to your Account Manager if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do to help. 

Best Regards,

Lindsay Harris, MPP President and CEO

Healthcare Management Administrators, Inc.

Proving What’s Possible in Healthcare®

 

Links to prior COVID-19 updates from HMA:

December 9, 2022

  • Bivalent Boosters Available for All Ages
  • Regional Stats, Variants, and Trends

November 11, 2022

  • Update and refresh on content topics below

October 20, 2022

  • Update and refresh on content topics below

September 15, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • BA.5 Omicron Variant Approaching 90% of New Cases
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • Bivalent Vaccines Are Here!
  • COVID Treatments Updated
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues

August 18, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • BA.5 Omicron Variant Approaching 90% of New Cases
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • COVID Treatment Options
  • What do we know about these oral antiviral treatments?
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Member Support

July 22, 2022

  • Update and refresh on content topics below

June 10, 2022

  • Update and refresh on content topics below

May 12, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • Multiple New Omicron Variants and Stealth Subvariants Rising
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • COVID Treatment Options
  • What do we know about these oral antiviral treatments?
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Member Support

April 7, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • Stealth Omicron Variant Dominating
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • COVID Treatment Options
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • ​What do we know about these oral antiviral treatments?
  • Member Support

March 6, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • COVID Treatment Options
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Member Support

February 13, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • An Emerging Variant
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • COVID Treatment Options
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues

January 13, 2022

  • Regional Stats
  • Omicron, Omnipresent
  • Booster and Vaccine Update
  • New COVID Treatments
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues

December 13, 2021

  • The Omicron Variant
  • Booster and Vaccine Update 
  • Coverage for Employer-Mandated Testing
  • Coverages for At-Home Test Kits
  • COVID Treatments Update  
  • New COVID Treatments
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Member Support 

November 15, 2021

  • Vaccine Update
  • Booster Update 
  • Coverage for Employer-Mandated Testing
  • COVID Treatments Update  
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Member Support 

October 15, 2021

  • OSHA Moving Closer to Publishing Vaccination Mandate Rule  
  • Coverage for Employer-Mandated Testing   
  • New COVID Treatments  
  • Boosters and Vaccine Update  
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues 
  • Member Support 

September 10, 2021

  • President Biden Issues Vaccination Mandates for Over 100M Workers and New Testing and Safety Measures
  • 'Crisis Standard of Care' Activated in Response to Overwhelmed Hospitals
  • Exploring Surcharges for Employees Not Vaccinated Against COVID-19
  • From Delta to Mu
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Member Support

August 12, 2021

  • Employer Vaccine Mandates Gaining Popularity
  • The DOJ and EEOC Updates on Employer-mandated Vaccinations
  • COVID Vaccination Requirements & HIPAA Considerations
  • OSHA Updates on Protecting Workers from the Spread of COVID-19
  • The Raging Delta
  • Booster Vaccines Approved…for Some
  • Public Health Emergencies- Anticipated End Dates and Next Steps
  • Benefit Design – COVID Testing 
  • Benefit Design – Telemedicine Coverage 
  • elemedicine Reimbursement Rates
  • Regular COVID Reporting Continues
  • Vaccine Costs and Trends Across our Membership
  • Testing Trends Across Our Membership 
  • Treatment Claims Trends Across Our Membership
  • Updated COVID-19 Member Information and Resources on Our Website

July 30, 2021

  • The Delta wave?
  • Employer mandates and more vaccine incentives rolling out Public Health Emergencies- anticipated end dates and next steps
  • Do vaccine incentives work?
  • EEOC update on employer-mandated vaccinations
  • OSHA updates on protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19
  • Planning for booster vaccines
  • Telemedicine reimbursement rates
  • PPE Coverage Update
  • Regular COVID reporting continues
  • Trends – current and anticipated
  • Member support

June 28, 2021

  • Public Health Emergencies- anticipated end dates and next steps
  • Do vaccine incentives work?
  • EEOC update on employer-mandated vaccinations
  • OSHA updates on protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19
  • Planning for booster vaccines
  • Telemedicine reimbursement rates
  • PPE Coverage Update
  • Regular COVID reporting continues
  • Trends – current and anticipated
  • Member support 

May 28, 2021

  • The 'next' normal', just around the corner?
  • Overcoming vaccine hesitancy with incentives
  • Continuing COVID support for our clients
  • Planning for booster vaccines
  • Regular COVID reporting to continue
  • Trends - current and anticipated
  • Member support

April 29, 2021

  • The race to vaccinate
  • Is herd immunity possible?
  • Vaccine safety and efficacy
  • Health plan coverage of vaccines
  • Vaccine costs and trends across our membership
  • An update on employer-mandated vaccinations and new OSHA requirements
  • Updated COVID-19 member information and resources on our website
  • Testing trends across our membership
  • Treatment claims trends across our membership

March 26, 2021

  • Latest Update  
  • Treatment Claims Trends Across Our Membership 
  • COVID-19 Variants Pose Surge Risk 
  • COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Vaccine Efficacy - What You Should Know
  • Vaccine Eligibility and Access 
  • Health Plan Coverage of Vaccines
  • Vaccine Costs and Trends Across our Membership
  • An Update on Employer-mandated Vaccinations
  • Updated COVID-19 Member Information and resources on our Website
  • Testing Trends Across our Membership 

February 26, 2021

  • US and Regional Update
  • Testing Trends Across our Membership
  • Treatment Claims Trends Across Our Membership
  • COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Health Plan Coverage
  • Vaccine Costs
  • Vaccine Access
  • Government-mandated Vaccinations?
  • What About Employer-mandated Vaccinations?
  • Will RGA Provide Reporting on Employees Who Have Been Vaccinated?

January 29, 2021

  • US and Regional Update
  • Testing Trends Across our Membership
  • Treatment Claims Trends Across Our Membership
  • COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Health Plan Coverage
  • Vaccine Costs
  • Vaccine Access
  • Government-mandated Vaccinations?
  • What About Employer-mandated Vaccinations?
  • Will RGA Provide Reporting on Employees Who Have Been Vaccinated?

December 18, 2020 

  • Testing Trends Across our Membership
  • Treatment Claims Trends Across Our Membership
  • COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin...What to Expect
  • Health Plan Coverage
  • Vaccine Costs
  • Government-mandated Vaccinations?
  • Employer-mandated Vaccine Update
  • Will RGA Provide Reporting on Employees Who Have Been Vaccinated?

November 24, 2020 

  • US and Regional Update
  • Testing Trends Across our Membership
  • Treatment Claims Trends Across Our Membership
  • Member Difficulty Finding Testing
  • Preparing for COVID-19 Vaccinations
  • Employer-Mandated Vaccines?

October 30, 2020 

  • US & Global update
  • Testing trends regionally
  • Outcome trends by state & age Group across regional Covid-19 positive cases
  • Treatment claims trends across our membership
  • Preparing for Covid-19 vaccinations
  • Employer-mandated vaccines?

September 25, 2020 

  • US & Global update
  • Testing trends regionally
  • Treatment claims trends across our membership
  • Testing claims trends across our membership

August 26, 2020