Medicare to cover at-home COVID-19 tests MAYA GOLDMAN Modern Healthcare

CMS has identified a pathway to enable Medicare coverage of rapid tests, which would close
a gap in the federal pandemic response.
Medicare will begin covering over-the-counter COVID-19 tests by early spring, the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.
Fee-for-service Medicare and Medicare Advantage enrollees will be able to get up to eight
at-home COVID-19 tests per month.
“This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter test at no cost to
beneficiaries. There are a number of issues that have made it difficult to cover and pay for
over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. However, given the importance of expanding access to
testing, CMS has identified a pathway that will expand access to free over-the-counter
testing for Medicare beneficiaries,” a CMS news release says.
Tests will be available at pharmacies and other sellers, according to the agency. Medicare
will pay participating providers for dispensing test kits.
CMS didn’t announce the program’s start date and wouldn’t provide detailed information
about how Medicare beneficiaries can obtain free tests, what pharmacies are participating or
whether other over-the-counter products will be covered.
President Joe Biden has been under pressure from Capitol Hill and advocates for older
Americans to rectify the fact that people on Medicare had scant access to at-home COVID19 tests without paying for them. Some Medicare Advantage plans covered at-home COVID19 tests but Medicare in general does not pay for over-the-counter health products.

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