Medicare Part B covers coronavirus tests

In response to growing concern about the coronavirus, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Medicare Part B medical insurance will pay for tests for the illness.

The test is covered when a healthcare provider orders it, including any tests ordered on or after Feb. 4.

CMS made several other announcements March 3 aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), including a call for healthcare providers nationally to ensure they are following their infection-control procedures, which they are required to maintain at all times. CMS also said state agencies will focus their inspections of nursing homes and hospitals exclusively on issues related to infection control and other serious health and safety threats.

As the federal agency responsible for Medicare and Medicaid, CMS requires facilities to maintain infection control and prevention policies as a condition for participation in Medicare and Medicaid.

CMS administrator Seema Verma said guidelines from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also being emphasized.

“We sincerely appreciate the proactive efforts of the nursing home and hospital associations that have already galvanized to provide up-to-the-minute information to their members. We must continue working together to keep American patients and residents safe and healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Verma said.

Officials reminded the public that people can help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other communicable illnesses, including the flu, by:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Staying home and seeing a doctor when sick.