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Trump Administration: Paying for Results To Get Faster COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

October 16, 2020

Key Takeaway: Building on actions to bolster laboratory testing for COVID-19, the Trump Administration is making changes to Medicare payments made to laboratories in order to incentivize faster and more efficient diagnostic test results. Yesterday, CMS announced that, starting January 1, 2021, Medicare will pay $100 only to laboratories that are able to process high throughput COVID-19 within two calendar days of the specimen being collected.

“As America continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, prompt testing turnaround times are more important than ever,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Today’s announcement supports faster high throughput testing, which will allow patients and physicians to act quickly and decisively with respect to treatment decisions, physical isolation, and contact tracing. President Trump continues to lead the most robust testing effort anywhere in the world.”

The Details

  • In April 2020, CMS increased Medicare payments to laboratories for high throughput COVID-19 diagnostic tests from approximately $51 to $100 per test.
  • Beginning on January 1, 2021, the base payment amount for these high throughput COVID-19 diagnostic tests will be lowered to $75
  • However, for laboratories that complete these high throughput tests in two calendar days or less, Medicare will make an additional $25 add-on payment.
  • Additionally, laboratories will receive $100 instead of $75 if they complete the majority of their high throughput COVID-19 diagnostic tests within two days for all of their patients (not just Medicare patients) in the previous month.

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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