COVID-19 in the News April 23, 2020 – April 30, 2020

on Wednesday, 06 May 2020. All News Items | Case Management | Documentation | Coding

COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal, AHA and AHIMA FAQs regarding new ICD-10-CM Code for COVID-19 Updated, Alabama Hospitals Allowed to Resume Surgeries, New EMTALA FAQs

MMP remains committed to continuing to monitor for COVID-19 updates specific to our reader base. This week we highlight key updates that span from April 23rd through April 30th. Website

This week’s COVID-19 resource spotlight is the website at Specifically, there are two resources available on this website that I want to point out. First is the COVID-19 Screening Tool.  This tool can help you understand what to do next about COVID-19. Second, is the State Information where you can choose a state to see COVID-19 specific guidance from that state’s health department. Both of these resources can be found by clicking “Check for Symptoms” on the homepage.  


April 23, 2020: COVID-19 FAQs on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing – Updated

On April 9, 2020 CMS announced in Special Edition MLN Connects that the COVID-19 FAQs have been updated. They advise that you check this resource often as it is updated on a regular basis. They noted that a date is added at the end of an FAQ when it is new or the content has been updated. As of Thursday April 23th this document is now 41 pages. The following list highlights the newest FAQ topics in the document:

  • Payment for specimen collection for purposed of COVID-19 testing,
  • Diagnostic laboratory services,
  • Hospital services,
  • Ambulance services,
  • Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs),
  • NEW: Expansion of Virtual Communication Services for FQHCs/RHCs,
  • NEW: Revision of the Home Health Agency Shortage Area Requirement for Visiting Nursing Services Furnished by RHCs and FQHCs,
  • Medicare telehealth. (CMS notes this document does not include flexibilities that might be exercised under the CARES Act),
  • Physician Services
  • Home Infusion Services,
  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACO),
  • Opioid Treatment Programs,
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility services,
  • Skilled Nursing Facility services,
  • General billing requirements,
  • Home Health,
  • Drugs and Vaccines under Part B,
  • NEW: National Coverage Determinations (NCD),
  • Medicare payment to facilities accepting government resources,
  • Oxygen,
  • NEW: Temporary Department of Defense Sites, and
  • NEW: Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs).


April 24, 2020: Alabama Medicaid Alert

Alabama Medicaid indicated in a Provider Alert that all previously published expiration dates related to the COVID-19 emergency are being extended with a new expiration date of May 30, 2020 or at the conclusion of the COVID-19 National emergency, whichever occurs first.

Also included in this Alert is the reminder that “during the COVID-19 emergency, it is important to file claims as quickly as possible to ensure payment from Medicaid is made to Medicaid providers close to the date of service. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has increased the federal matching percentage for the emergency time frame, but states can only receive the increased match on claims that are paid during the emergency. Providers should include appropriate COVID-19 diagnosis code(s) on claims submitted to help with tracking of COVID-19.”

You can view a listing of prior Provider Alerts and all actions in response to the COVID-19 National emergency on the Agency’s COVID-19 at:


April 27, 2020: HHS Launches COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal

In an April 27th media release, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they have “launched a NEW COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal, allowing health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured COVID-19 individuals on or after February 4, 2020 to submit claims for reimbursement.”

About the Program

  • Where to Access the Portal
    • HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities Testing and Treatment of the Uninsured webpage at:
  • HHS’ HRSA has contracted with UnitedHealth Group to administer this program.
  • Approximately $1 billion is available to reimburse providers. This money was appropriate through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • Program Timeline:
    • April 22: Program Details Launch
    • April 27: Sign up period begins for the program
    • April 29: On Demand training starts
    • May 6: Begin submitting claims electronically
    • Mid-May: Begin receiving reimbursement
  • Services Eligible for reimbursement:
    • Specimen collection, diagnostic and antibody testing.
    • Testing-related visits including in the following settings: office, urgent care or emergency room or via telehealth.
    • Treatment, including office visit (including via telehealth), emergency room, inpatient, outpatient/observation, skilled nursing facility, long-term acute care (LTAC), acute inpatient rehab, home health, DME (e.g., oxygen, ventilator), emergency ground ambulance transportation, non-emergent patient transfers via ground ambulance, and FDA-approved drugs as they become available for COVID-19 treatment and administered as part of an inpatient stay.
    • FDA-approved vaccine, when available.
    • For inpatient claims, date of admittance must be on or after February 4, 2020.
  • How to learn more:
    • HRSA has indicated the Program website will be updated with much more information starting April 27 and to check back often.


April 27, 2020: MLN Matters MM11765: Addition of the QW Modifier to HCPCS Code U0002 and 87635

Provider Types affected by information in MLN MM11765 are facilities with a current Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certificate of waiver. Specifically, the article advised the need for the addition of the QW modifier to:

  • HCPCS code U0002 (2019-nCoV Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV (COVID-19), any technique, multiple types or subtypes (includes all targets), non-CDC), and
  • 87635 [Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease {COVID-19}, amplified probe technique.]

Medicare will permit the use of Codes U0002QW and 87635QW for claims submitted by facilities with a valid, current CLIA certificate of waiver with dates of service on or after March 20, 2020. The official instruction, CR 11765, issued to your MAC regarding this change is available at


April, 28 2020: AHA and AHIMA FAQs Regarding ICD-10-CM Coding for COVID-19 Revised

The American Hospital Association and American Health Information Management Association released this joint FAQs regarding ICD-10-CM Coding for COVID-19 document on March 24, 2020. Since then several FAQs have been added with the most recent additions being on April 28, 2020.

MMP encourages you to visit the AHA COVID-19 FAQ webpage often for new information that can be downloaded and shared with your Coders and Clinical Documentation Integrity (CDI) Specialists.


April 28, 2020: Alabama Hospitals allowed to Resume Medical Procedures

Alabama’s Safer At Home Order signed on April 28, 2020 amended the Order of the State Health Officer Suspending Certain Public Gathering Due to the Risk of Infection by COVID-19 document. This is good news for Alabama hospitals as the following information for hospitals regarding resuming medical procedures was included in the amended document:

“Medical procedures. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., dental, medical, or surgical procedures may proceed unless the State Health Officer or his designee determines that performing such procedures, or any category of them (whether statewide or regionally), would unacceptably reduce access to personal protective equipment or other resources necessary to diagnose and treat COVID-19. Providers performing these procedures shall follow all applicable COVID-19-related rules adopted by a state regulatory board or by the Alabama Department of Public Health. In the absence of such rules, providers should take reasonable steps to comply with applicable COVID-19-related guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the CDC, including “Re-opening Facilities to Provide Non-emergent Non-COVID-19 Healthcare: Phase I” from CMS, available at, and “Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19)” from the CDC, available at”


April 28, 2020: CMS Issues Letter to Clinicians Regarding New COVID-19 Clinical Trials Improvement Activity to the MIPS

In a letter thanking clinicians for their efforts to treat patients and combat COVID-19, CMS provided additional details on the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) improvement activity.

Letter (PDF)


April 29, 2020: First Coast eNews: COVID-19: Allowances for Lab Test Codes U0001-U0004 and 87635

In this announcement, First Coast reminds providers that CMS established new codes for lab tests for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Further, CMS provided pricing for codes U0001 and U0002, and instructed MACs to develop the allowance for the remaining codes. The following table highlights the Allowance for each code:

U0001 $35.92
U0002 $51.31
U0003 $100.00
U0004 $100.00
87635 $51.31

April 29, 2020: The HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Webinar on HIPAA Privacy and Security Issues Related to COVID-19

In an April 29th announcement the OCR indicated they had hosted a webinar on April 24, 2020, for health IT stakeholders on HIPAA privacy and security issues related to COVID-19 and recent OCR actions related to the pandemic. The following topics were included in this webinar:

  • COVID-19 and Permissible Disclosures under the HIPAA Privacy Rule
  • Enforcement Discretion and Guidance for Telehealth Remote Communications
  • Guidance for Disclosures to First Responders and Public Health Authorities
  • Enforcement Discretion for Business Associates to Use and Disclose PHI for Public Health and Health Oversight Activities
  • Enforcement Discretion for Community-Based Testing Sites

A recording of this webinar is now available on YouTube:

The slides from this presentation may be viewed at:

For more information related to HIPAA and COVID-19, visit the HIPAA, Civil Rights, and COVID-19 webpage.

April 30, 2020: Second Round Sweeping Changes to Support U.S. Healthcare System During COVID-19 Pandemic

In an April 30th Press Release the CMS announced “another round of sweeping regulatory waivers and rule changes to deliver expanded care to the nation’s seniors and provide flexibility to the healthcare system as America reopens.” The CMS indicates “today’s actions are informed by requests from healthcare providers as well as by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.”  Included in the Press Release is the reminder that you do need to apply for the blanket waivers and providers and states can begin using the flexibilities immediately. Following are a few of the actions being taken:   

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing for Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiaries:

  • During the Public Health Emergency, COVID-19 test may be covered when ordered by any healthcare professional authorized to do so under state law. To provide broad access to testing related to COVID-19, a written practitioner’s order is no longer required for the COVID-19 test for Medicare payment purposes.
  • CMS will pay hospitals and practitioners to assess beneficiaries and collect lab samples for COVID-19 testing, and make separate payment when that is the only service the patient receives.
  • CMS announced they will be “covering certain serology (antibody) tests, which may aid in determining whether a person may have developed an immune response and may not be at immediate risk for COVID-19 reinfection. Medicare and Medicaid will cover laboratory processing of certain FDA-authorized tests that beneficiaries self-collect at home.”

CMS Hospitals Without Walls

CMS provided the following examples of ways hospitals are being provided flexibility to increase beds for COVID-19 patients and receive stable Medicare payments:

  • Teaching hospitals can increase the number of temporary beds without facing reduced payments for indirect medical education.
  • Inpatient Psychiatric and inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) can admit more patients to alleviate pressure on acute-care hospital capacity without facing reduced teaching status payments.
  • Specific for freestanding IRFs, CMS is excepting certain requirements to enable them to accept patients from acute-care hospitals experiencing a surge, even if they do not require rehabilitation care.
  • Hospital systems with rural health clinics (RHCs) can increase bed capacity without affecting the RHCs payments.

Outpatient Hospital Services

  • Under current law, most provider-based hospital outpatient departments that relocate off-campus are paid at lower rates under the Physician Fee Schedule, rather than the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS). CMS will allow certain provider-based hospital outpatient departments that relocate off-campus to obtain a temporary exception and continue to be paid under the OPPS. Importantly, hospitals may also relocate outpatient departments to more than one off-campus location, or partially relocate off-campus while still furnishing care at the original site.

Additional flexibilities being made are related to increasing the Healthcare Workforce, decreasing administrative burden for providers, and further expanding telehealth.

You can read more about the new flexibilities and waivers in a related CMS Fact Sheet or the Medicare and Medicaid Interim Final Rule with Comment (IFC): Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (CMS-5531 IFC) that can be found on the CMS COVID-19 flexibilities webpage:

April 30, 2020: MLN SE20016 New and Expanded Flexibilities for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) Revised

MLN SE20016 was revised to provide the following:

  • Additional claims submission and processing instructions,
  • Information on cost-sharing related to COVID-19 testing,
  • Additional information on telehealth flexibilities, and
  • Information on provider-based RHCs exemption to the RHC payment limit.

April 30, 2020: New FAQs on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)

CMS has issued FAQs to clarify requirements and considerations for hospitals and other providers related to EMTALA during the COVID-19 pandemic. FAQ topics includes the following:

  • Patient Presentation to the Emergency Department,
  • Where Does EMTALA Apply,
  • Qualified Medical Professionals (QMPs),
  • Medical Screening Exam (MSE),
  • Transfer and Stabilization of a Patient,
  • Telehealth,
  • Waivers Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act, and
  • FAQs falling under “Other.”

Article by Beth Cobb

Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc.  Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. 

In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Risk Assessment (CRA) Tool. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice.  Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.

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