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UnitedHealthcare delays plans to deny payments for some ER visits

Plus: Democrats divided over Ilhan Omar tweet; health officials concerned over spread of COVID-19 in areas with low vaccination rates; St. Paul deputy mayor wants to use federal funds to address homelessness; and more.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Next time you have an emergency, just call your insurance company during regular business hours before heading to the ER. The New York Times’ Reed Abelson reports (via the Star Tribune): “Just days after UnitedHealthcare announced that it would stop paying for emergency room hospital visits that it deemed nonurgent, the company faced mounting opposition and said Thursday it would delay the policy shift until the pandemic had ended. … Under the new policy, which was to go into effect next month, UnitedHealthcare, the giant insurer, had planned to scrutinize the medical records of its customers’ visits to emergency departments to determine if it should cover those hospital bills. But in the last week, several major hospital and doctor groups demanded that United abandon the policy.”

Ah Twitter, the perfect place for a nuanced discussion of foreign policy and human rights. Also from the New York Times, Jonathan Weisman reports: “Representative Ilhan Omar is again at odds with her Democratic colleagues over Israel, but this time, she has brought her own country into the mix. … The latest contretemps began on Monday, when Ms. Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, wrote on Twitter about a virtual exchange she had with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. In the actual exchange, Ms. Omar pressed for an investigation of human rights abuses both by Israeli security forces and by Hamas. But on Twitter, she seemed to compare Israel and the United States not only to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the State Department, but also to the Taliban.

The pandemic continues. The Pioneer Press’ Christopher Magan reports: “Minnesota health officials are increasingly worried that pockets of the state with low vaccination rates could become breeding grounds for coronavirus variants and lead to future COVID-19 outbreaks. … It’s likely already happening. A Pioneer Press analysis of the rate of new cases and vaccinations in April and May found that counties with the lowest rate of vaccination had some of the highest numbers of new cases per capita. … More than 85 percent of new infections are believed to be caused by variants of the coronavirus that can be more contagious and cause more severe infections.”

Addressing homelessness in St. Paul. Also in the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo reports: “As unprecedented federal relief funds roll in for states, cities, counties and school districts across the country, St. Paul Deputy Mayor Jaime Tincher envisions creating a three-person rapid response team to meet homeless residents within tent communities, track them with a by-name registry, and hopefully get them housed appropriately before winter.

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