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CMS develops specific billing code for coronavirus test

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is more than 60,000, with the 15th known person infected in the United States.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has developed a new Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System code for providers to bill the lab test of the coronavirus.

The HCPCS code enables labs to bill for the specific test instead of using an unspecified code.

Healthcare providers who need to test patients for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 Novel Coronavirus Real Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Test Panel may bill for that test using the newly created HCPCS code (U0001).

The Medicare claims processing system will be able to accept this code on April 1 for dates of service on or after February 4. HCPCS is a standardized coding system that Medicare and other health insurers use to submit claims for services provided to patients. 

WHY THIS MATTERS

CMS has taken this action to ensure America's healthcare facilities and clinical laboratories are prepared to respond to the threat of the 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Having a specific code allows for 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 said. 

THE LARGER TREND

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday confirmed the 15th U.S. infection with COVID-19 in the United States.

The patient is among a group of people under a federal quarantine order at JBSA-Lackland in Texas because of their recent return to the U.S. on a State Department-chartered flight that arrived on February 7.

On Wednesday night, Chinese health officials in the Hubei province reported 242 new deaths and 14,840 new cases of the coronavirus. The number of new cases jumped by more than 14,000 partly due to a broader definition of what constitutes a confirmed case, to include people diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms rather than testing positive, according to a CNN report.

The worldwide death toll stands at 1,357 and the number of confirmed cases is more than 60,000, according to CBS.

On February 6, CMS issued a memo to help the nation's healthcare facilities take steps to prepare for COVID-19.

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