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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Starting July 1, UnitedHealthcare says it plans to reduce coverage of — or stop paying for — non-emergency trips to the ER.

Why it matters: Unnecessary emergency room visits are a major source of wasted spending in U.S. health care. But critics say this policy from the nation's largest health insurer could hurt patients who mistakenly believe they'll be covered.

The policy has exceptions, such as for patients who are ultimately admitted and children under 2.

  • But visits determined to be non-emergencies will require providers to complete an attestation challenging the call.
  • This policy comes just a few years after Anthem unveiled a similar policy that faced pushback in 2018.

What they're saying: "The goal here is chilling — so people second guess whether to seek care for their symptoms," tweeted Seth Trueger, an emergency doctor at Northwestern Emergency Medicine.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that providers have to complete an attestation (not patients).

Go deeper

HHS to require COVID-19 vaccine for 25,000 of its health care workers

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced that it will require more than 25,000 members of its health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: It's the latest federal agency to implement a vaccine mandate, joining the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.