Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that reimbursement is available to physicians and health care providers to use toward counseling patients, at the time of COVID-19 testing, about the importance of self-isolation after they are tested and prior to the onset of symptoms. This is extremely important as studies have shown that the transmission of COVID-19 occurs from both symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals emphasizing the importance of education on self-isolation as the spread of the virus can be reduced significantly by having patients isolated earlier, while waiting for test results or the onset of symptoms.
Provider counseling to patients, at the time of their COVID-19 testing, will include the discussion of immediate need for isolation, even before results are available, the importance to inform their immediate household that they too should be tested for COVID-19, and the review of signs and symptoms and services available to them to aid in isolating at home. Additionally, they will be counseled that if they test positive, to wear a mask at all times and they will be contacted by public health authorities and asked to provide information for contact tracing and to tell their immediate household and recent contacts in case it is appropriate for these individuals to be tested for the virus and to self-isolate as well.
CMS will use existing evaluation and management (E/M) payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill CMS for counseling services no matter where a test is administered, including doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, hospitals, and community drive-thru or pharmacy testing sites.
Additional information and resource links are included in the counseling checklist.