CMS Doubles Payment Rate for COVID-19 Tests to Expand Nursing Home Access — as Verma Blames Labs for Shortfalls

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will increase its reimbursements for high-volume lab tests used to rapidly diagnose COVID-19 cases as part of the federal government’s push to expand testing access — particularly among the vulnerable skilled nursing population, the agency announced Wednesday.

The reimbursement for COVID-19 diagnostic lab tests that use certain higher-capacity methods will jump to $100, effective April 14. Prior to Wednesday’s action, the rate was $51.

In terms of how this will benefit nursing homes, which are short on COVID-19 testing even as the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes climbs into the thousands, CMS administrator Seema Verma emphasized that the reimbursement increase had to be taken in tandem with CMS’s earlier announcement of expanded coverage for COVID-19 tests taken from a nursing home.

CMS to require nursing homes to report infections directly to CDC

Providers will soon be required to report potential infectious disease outbreaks directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said Wednesday that changes would be coming for nursing homes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“[Nursing homes] do report this information to the local health departments, but we’re going to be enhancing our reporting requirements to get more real-time information about where there’s outbreaks across the country in nursing homes. So basically, enhancing their reporting directly to CDC,” Verma said during a call with members of the media. 

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