House Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On March 14, the House passed by 363-40, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to enhance the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the impact of the virus on personal safety and financial security.  The legislation expands access to free testing, provides $1 billion in food aid, and extends sick leave benefits.  The Senate has not acted on the legislation but will do so this week. The House left for a week long recess after passing the legislation to pressure the Senate into not making changes.  The White House supported the legislation and urged Republicans to support the bill.

House and Senate Pass Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Package to Address Coronavirus – President Signs Legislation
On March 6, President Trump signed the $8.3 billion emergency funding package Congress passed in the same week, sending funds to federal agencies and states working to combat a rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The bill, H.R. 6074, provides a total of $7.7 billion in new discretionary spending and authorizes an additional $490 million in mandatory spending through a Medicare change. More than $400 million will be disbursed to states within the first 30 days of the bill’s enactment, with each state receiving no less than $4 million.

CMS Information Concerning COVID-19
On March 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a supplement to its guidance to home health agencies and dialysis facilities to protect the health and safety of patients and providers in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The memoranda were developed from frequently asked questions CMS has received about interacting with patients amid COVID-19. The guidance offers actionable information to health care workers on the screening, treatment and transfer procedures to follow when interacting with patients. This action is part of the broader effort by the White House Task Force to ensure that health care providers and patients—particularly those at high-risk of complications from COVID-19—remain healthy while helping to contain the spread of the disease.

On March 13, CMS issued Frequently Asked Questions to ensure individuals, issuers and states have clear information on coverage benefits for COVID-19, to clarify information concerning access to the health benefits that can help keep people healthy while helping to contain the spread of this disease.

On March 13, CMS posted a fact sheet to concerning price information of both CDC and non-CDC COVID-19 tests. On February 13 and March 5, CMS announced new Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System (HCPCS) codes for health care providers and laboratories to test patients for SARS-CoV-2. Starting in April, laboratories performing the test can bill Medicare and other health insurers for services that occurred after Feb. 4, 2020, using the newly created HCPCS code (U0001). This code is only to be used for the tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Laboratories performing non-CDC laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV (COVID-19) can bill for them using a different HCPCS code (U0002). Medicare’s initial payment for the CDC test will be about $36 and non-CDC tests will be around $51. These prices may vary slightly depending on the local Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). View the full price by MAC list here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.