Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Walmart is requiring employees to travel to specific, well-regarded hospitals for spinal procedures, in a bid to cut down on its health care costs, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

What's happening: Walmart is paying for surgery at some big-name systems, including the Mayo Clinic and Geisinger, while slashing what it will pay closer to employees’ homes. Adding the extra hurdle has helped cut down on unnecessary procedures, for which physical therapy might be just as effective, per WSJ. Of course, it’s also a big hoop to jump through for employees who are in pain and legitimately need surgery.

Flashback: Walmart previously tried to excise the lowest-quality providers from its health care network, but was thwarted by hospitals’ all-or-nothing contracts.

The big picture: If the country’s biggest private employer is having this hard of a time driving high-value care, that’s not a great sign for the rest of us, or for the system as a whole.

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IG report: Saudi arms sales were legal but didn't weigh civilian casualties

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acted legally when he bypassed Congress to approve $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but failed to "fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties" that resulted from the deal, according to a report by the State Department inspector general.

Why it matters: The 2019 sale drew bipartisan ire among lawmakers, who worried it could lead to a pattern of the administration using "emergency declarations" to circumvent Congress to approve weapons deals. The report comes two months after former Inspector General Steve Linick testified that he was pressured by a top Pompeo aide to drop the investigation.

52 mins ago - Health

Florida reports another daily record for coronavirus deaths

Nurse practitioner Barbara Corral and a research assistant conduct a COVID-19 vaccination study on August 7 in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida's health department on Tuesday reported 276 new coronavirus deaths, surpassing the state's record from July 31.

The big picture: The state also recorded over 5,800 new cases — on the low side for a state that is one of the domestic epicenters for the virus.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 20,130,206 — Total deaths: 737,394 — Total recoveries: 12,382,856Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 5,100,636 — Total deaths: 163,681 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. States: Florida reports another daily record for deaths State testing plans fall short of demand.
  4. Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 2 has a personal connection to COVID-19.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. World: New Zealand reports first local cases for 102 days — Why you should be skeptical of Russia's vaccine claims.