What We’re Reading: CVS Mental Health Counseling; New CMS Rules Adopted; Excess of Cervical Cancer Screening

CVS will expand its pilot mental health program; CMS adopts new rules to lower out-of-pocket costs; a study highlights overuse of cervical cancer screening tests.

CVS to Expand Mental Health Pilot Program

CVS is leading the way in trying to fill gaps in access to mental health services, NPR reported. To do so, the pharmacy chain has piloted a counseling service in some of its retail stores and negotiates with insurance companies to cover visits in an effort to reduce costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to overbooked therapists while many do not accept insurance, forcing customers to pay out-of-pocket for each visit. The CVS pilot program launched in January and currently operates in 12 stores across Houston, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Tampa, Florida. This year, it plans to expand to 34 stores and target communities where mental health care isn’t readily available.

CMS Announces New Cost Provisions

CMS today announced it has adopted new provisions to lower maximum out-of-pocket costs to consumers by $400. The center will do so while also increasing competition and improving consumer experiences for Americans who will rely on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplaces in plan year 2022. The second 2022 payment notice also includes provisions to help consumers better distinguish between plan options and increase opportunities to qualify for future special enrollment periods (SEP). Thus far, an additional 800,000 individuals enrolled in the Affordable Care Act under the SEP enacted by the Biden administration.

Overuse of Cervical Cancer Screening

A new study published in JAMA Network Open found that among women with average risk of cervical cancer in the United States, overuse of screening tests is common. The cohort study, which included nearly 2,300,000 commercially insured women, revealed around 65% underwent repeat testing within 36 months of index testing. Researchers noted interventions to mitigate overuse of this testing are of interest as they can help reduce patient harm and medical waste. Further evaluations of interventions aligning clinical practice with evidence-based guidelines are warranted, they concluded.