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Insurance CEOs meet with President Trump, pledge coverage for coronavirus

CMS has provided flexibility to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans on testing, treatment and prevention.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Health insurance CEOs, including Gail Boudreaux of Anthem and David Wichmann of UnitedHealth Group, and America's Health Insurance Plans' Matt Eyles, met with President Trump and administrators on Tuesday to discuss efforts to not let money stand in the way of coronavirus testing or treatment.

Vice President Mike Pence, the president's point person overseeing COVID-19 coordination, said insurers have agreed to waive all copays, include coverage in their plans, to cover telemedicine and present no surprise billing.

Boudreaux said Anthem was focused on ensuring access to care.

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Following the meeting, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a memorandum to provide more flexibility to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans in the testing, treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

MA and Part D plans may waive certain requirements to help prevent the spread of the virus that has infected over 1,000 people in the U.S. and killed 32.

Flexibilities include the ability to: waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments in doctor's offices or emergency rooms; have services delivered remotely and expand access to telehealth; remove prior authorization requirements; waive prescription refill limits; and relax restrictions on home or mail delivery of prescription drugs.

WHY THIS MATTERS

A commitment by insurers ensures health coverage.

The Board of Directors for America's Health Insurance Plans said that as the country prepares for the possibility of widespread infections, insurers are proactively addressing prevention, testing and treatment.

THE LARGER TREND

Many leading insurance companies have announced they will be treating COVID-19 diagnostic tests as covered benefits and will be waiving cost sharing that would otherwise apply to the test.

ON THE RECORD

"Today we announced guidance to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to remove barriers that could prevent or delay beneficiaries from receiving care," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "Medicare beneficiaries are at the greatest risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 and CMS will continue doing everything in our power to protect them."

"No one should hesitate to see their doctor to get tested and treated for COVID-19 because of costs," Eyles said. "Health insurance providers across the country have taken action to remove cost barriers to care."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com