What We're Reading: CMS Sets Payment Notice; Children in COVID-19 Trials; Deaths of Despair Predicted to Rise

CMS announced a final payment notice for the 2021 coverage year; experts say children should be more well-represented in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) clinical trials; a new report predicts sharp increases in deaths of despair resulting from the pandemic.

CMS Releases Final Payment Notice for 2021 Coverage Year

Experts Call to Include Children in COVID-19 Trials

Pandemic Could Increase Deaths of Despair

CMS issued a final payment notice for the 2021 coverage year in addition to a 1-week extension of the Qualified Health Plan certification and rate review timelines. This extra time is intended to allow issuers and states to accurately collect and assess data from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. By doing so, CMS claims more accurate premium rates can be established. The payment notice also continues lower user fee rates on issuers in the federal exchange platform that were originally set in the 2020 notice. The notice also requires states to annually notify CMS of any additional state-required benefit mandates and to defray the cost of new state-mandated insurance benefits in addition to essential health benefits.Some doctors are calling for increased inclusion of children in COVID-19 trials, according to an article published in JAMA Pediatrics. Of the 275 COVID-19 interventional trials conducted between February 1 and April 11, 2020, only 30 were open to enrolling patients under the age of 18. Authors argue a lack of pediatric data for a treatment at the time of regulatory approval could expose children to ineffective dosing or unsafe treatments. Although early reports suggest COVID-19 may be milder in children, researchers point out the infection can be serious in certain pediatric populations. Public health agencies, regulators, and trial investigators and sponsors should act to ensure pediatric labeling data on new products’ market entries are available, researchers conclude.Deaths due to drug and alcohol use, and suicide, or deaths of despair, may rise due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released by the Well Being Trust and Robert Graham Center. Three main factors potentially contributing to the predicted rise are high unemployment rates, mandated social isolation, and uncertainty and anxiety caused by the emergence of a new microbe. Researchers feel deaths of despair ought to be considered as an epidemic within the pandemic. After investigating 9 different scenarios, they found additional deaths of despair could range from 27,644 to 154,037 based on varying recovery times and impacts of unemployment.