News: CMS develops new code for coronavirus lab test

CDI Strategies - Volume 14, Issue 9

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been closely monitoring an outbreak of the respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and which continues to expand through out the world. At the beginning of February, the World Health Organization (WHO) named the disease coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated “COVID-19”.

While Chinese health officials have reported tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19 in China, the first confirmed instance of person-to-person spread within the United States was reported on January 30, 2020.

As of February 20, 479 people in the United States have been under investigation for the novel coronavirus. Of those tested, 15 have had positive results, with 52 pending.

To take further action in ensuring health of American citizens, CMS developed a new Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code for providers and laboratories to test patients for coronavirus. This code will “allow those labs conducting the tests to bill for the specific test instead of using an unspecified code, which means better tracking of the public health response for this particular strain of the coronavirus to help protect people from the spread of this infectious disease.”

CMS stated that providers who need to test patients for COVID-19 using the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus Real Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Test Panel may bill for the test using the HCPCS code (U0001). The Medicare claims processing system will accept this code on April 1, 2020, for dates of service on or after February 4, 2020.

Editor’s note: The CDC coronavirus situation summary can be found here. Information on the HCPCS code can be found here.

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