CMS Takes Decisive Action to Support Laboratories Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the decision announced today by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to raise the Medicare reimbursement rate for high throughput COVID-19 molecular tests from about $51 to $100 dollars, ACLA President Julie Khani issued the following statement:
“In an acknowledgement of the considerable strain that has been placed on clinical laboratories supporting our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration today took decisive action to expand the availability of testing for patients nationwide.
As we’ve said from the beginning, this crisis demands the full force of the clinical laboratory industry—private, public, academic and hospital laboratories are all in this together. We know that the lack of predictable reimbursement for tests performed has been a barrier to entry for some laboratories, and today’s decision will help encourage all laboratories with the appropriate expertise to come to the table and perform COVID-19 testing. We also hope that other payers will follow CMS’s strong example of leadership today.
Following FDA guidance on February 29 that allowed commercial laboratories to test for COVID-19, ACLA members have performed more than two million tests, working around the clock to expand capacity without clear reimbursement guidelines or designated resources. At the same time, labs have been asked to do more with less. The cost of supplies has increased, and laboratories are seeing a substantial decline in non-COVID-19 testing, as patient visits to physicians plummet and elective surgeries, screenings and routine care services are postponed.
After scaling up to meet an unprecedented demand for testing, ACLA members have now eliminated testing backlogs and have considerable capacity that is not in use. We stand ready to perform more testing and are in close communication with public health partners about ways we can support additional needs.”