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COVID-19 Response: CMS Issues FAQs to Assist Medicare Providers

This message was originally published in the Monday, March 9, 2020, issue of CMS MLN Connects, the official CMS news from Medicare Learning Network®.


On March 6, CMS issued frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) for healthcare providers regarding Medicare payment for laboratory tests and other services related to the 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The agency is receiving questions from providers and created this document to be transparent and share answers to some of the most common questions.


Included in the FAQs is:

  • Guidance on how to bill and receive payment for testing patients at risk of COVID-19.
  • Details of Medicare’s payment policies for laboratory and diagnostic services, drugs and vaccines under Medicare Part B, ambulance services and other medical services delivered by physicians, hospitals and facilities accepting government resources.
  • Information on billing for telehealth or in-home provider services. Since 2019, the Trump Administration has expanded flexibilities for CMS to pay providers for virtual check-ins and other digital communications with patients, which will make it easier for sick patients to stay home and lower the risk of spreading the infection.

This FAQ, and earlier CMS actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work CMS is doing in response to COVID-19, visit the Current Emergencies website.  


Below is an updated list of CMS’ actions to date:

  • March 5: Issued a second Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code for certain COVID-19 laboratory tests, in addition to three fact sheets about coverage and benefits for medical services related to COVID-19 for CMS programs 
  • March 4: Issued a call to action to healthcare providers nationwide and offered important guidance to help State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations prioritize their inspections of healthcare
  • February 13: Issued a new HCPCS code for providers and laboratories to test patients for COVID-19  
  • February 6: Gave CLIA-certified laboratories information about how they can test for SARS-CoV-2
  • February 6: Issued a memo to help the nation’s healthcare facilities take critical steps to prepare for COVID-19

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