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CMS issues coronavirus HCPCS code for targeted reporting

As public health agencies intensify their response to the coronavirus outbreak, you can prepare your clinic or lab for testing with a new HCPCS code that CMS developed specifically to report lab tests for the 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Medicare claims processing system will be able to accept the code -- U0001 -- starting April 1, 2020, for lab claims dated no earlier than Feb. 4, 2020. The coding guidance, which CMS released Feb. 13 alongside directional materials for labs and facilities, means that you will no longer have to use an unlisted code when testing for the virus.
More than 75,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported as of Feb. 19, according to Situation Report #30 from the World Health Organization (WHO). The death count has increased to more than 2,000, with nearly all fatalities occurring in China. The WHO maintains a "very high" risk factor in China, and a "high" risk factor globally.
With the release of the new HCPCS code, CMS intends to better monitor the threat of COVID-19 domestically. For example, code U0001 should be billed when using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019 Novel Coronavirus Real Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Test Panel, CMS states.  
"This code will allow those labs conducting the tests to bill for the specific test instead of using an unspecified code, which means 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," the agency said in a statement.
Previously, CMS released a memorandum directed to health care facilities urging the adoption and implementation of strict infection control standards. CMS published a second memo covering protocol for lab testing.
Experts say that medical practices should follow a series of measures to boost infection control at their settings. First step? Take a proactive approach during your encounters to assess a patient's history and determine risk. You should then take steps to limit exposure, reassure staff and, if necessary, report cases to local health departments.
Legal experts advise you to take appropriate measures to address your worker safety and staffing concerns. You may need to send workers home, and you surely want to encourage personal reporting.
Blog Tags: CMS, COVID-19
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