Public Health News Alert: CMS Develops New Code for Coronavirus Lab Test

Sharon Hamilton MS, RN, CFDS
Clinical Consultant, Briggs Healthcare

Healthcare providers who need to test patients for Coronavirus using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019 Novel Coronavirus Real Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Test Panel may bill for that test using the newly created HCPCS code (U0001). The Medicare claims processing system will be able to accept this code on April 1, 2020 for dates of service on or after February 4, 2020. HCPCS is a standardized coding system that Medicare and other health insurers use to submit claims for services provided to patients.

Summary of CMS Public Health Action on Coronavirus to date:

On February 6, 2020, CMS issued a memo to help the nation’s healthcare facilities take critical steps to prepare for COVID-19. To view a copy of the memo and see more details, visit:  https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/information-healthcare-facilities-concerning-2019-novel-coronavirus-illness-2019-ncov

On February 6, 2020, CMS also gave CLIA-certified laboratories information about how they can test for SARS-CoV-2. To read more about those efforts, visit: https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/notification-surveyors-authorization-emergency-use-cdc-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-real-time-rt

According to the World Health Organization, February 14, 2020, Covid-19 had infected almost 47,000 with 1,369 deaths. Currently, there is no pharmaceutical weapon to fight it and no vaccine to prevent it.

The principal mode of transmission is still thought to be respiratory droplets, but the latest studies suggest diarrhea may be a secondary path of transmission. It has long been known that effective handwashing can help to prevent the spread of disease. In the case or the coronavirus, it can be a life saver.

For more information click on the links below:

https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/public-health-news-alert-cms-develops-new-code-coronavirus-lab-test

https://fortune.com/2020/02/20/coronavirus-fecal-transmission/

https://www.sciencealert.com/latest-coronavirus-study-suggests-it-can-also-be-spread-through-poop

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/why-hand-washing-really-could-slow-down-an-epidemic

https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/02/416671/how-new-coronavirus-spreads-and-progresses-and-why-one-test-may-not-be-enough