CMS Publishes First Set of COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Agencies

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Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is posting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to the website to aid state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in their response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  CMS is taking this action in its continuing efforts to protect the health and safety of providers and patients, including those who are covered by Medicaid and CHIP.

 “The Trump Administration is actively working with governors to provide flexibility in Medicaid and CHIP programs, so states can respond effectively to this virus,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We are especially mindful of our beneficiaries with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable. CMS is doing everything in its power to help states eliminate any barriers or delays in their care.”

Last week, senior CMS leadership held a call with all state Medicaid agencies, and has been working directly with impacted states and associations to provide guidance and answer questions about existing federal flexibilities.  CMS has invited states to submit questions to CMS through their state leads, which CMS has used to formulate this first set of FAQs.

The FAQs cover a range of topics and issues that reflect questions and concerns raised by state Medicaid and CHIP agencies.  The information highlights the resources available to states, such as the Disaster Preparedness Toolkit developed by CMS specifically for state Medicaid and CHIP agencies, to address a variety of policy and program topics related to eligibility and enrollment, benefits and cost sharing, healthcare workforce, and telehealth.  As questions and issues continue to come into CMS, they will be addressed and answered, and added to these FAQs.

The COVID-19 FAQs for State Medicaid and CHIP agencies can be found here:

These FAQs, and earlier CMS actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work CMS is doing in response to COVID-19, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.  

Summary of CMS Public Health Action on COVID-19 to date:

March 10, 2020: CMS issued guidance to home health agencies and dialysis facilities with actionable information for healthcare workers on screening, treatment and transfer procedures to follow when interacting with patients in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

March 10, 2020: CMS issued a frequently asked questions to ensure  State Survey Agencies and accrediting organizations charged with inspecting nursing homes and other health care facilities, understand that non-emergency survey inspections are suspended. This shift in survey prioritization enables State Inspectors to address the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

March 10, 2020: CMS issued guidance on Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D health and prescription drug plans informing them of the flexibilities they have to provide healthcare coverage for testing, treatments, and prevention of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Leading insurance companies and their industry associations announced they will be treating COVID-19 diagnostic tests as covered benefits and will be waiving cost sharing that would otherwise apply to the test.

March 10, 2020: CMS  issued guidance on the range of facemasks that can be temporarily used based on recent changes to CDC and FDA facemask and respirator guidance in light of COVID-19 and supply demands. These are steps the White House Task Force is taking to ensure a maximum supply of facemasks and respirators are available that allow healthcare providers to safely treat patients without exposing themselves or others to COVID-19.

On March 9, 2020: CMS delivered detailed guidance on the screening, treatment and transfer procedures healthcare workers must follow when interacting with patients to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a hospice setting. CMS also issued additional guidance specific to nursing homes to help control and prevent the spread of the virus.

On March 9, 2020: CMS issued a fact sheet with additional guidance for healthcare providers and patients about the telehealth benefits in the agency’s Medicare program.  Expanded use of virtual care, such as virtual check-ins, are important tools for keeping beneficiaries healthy, while helping to contain the community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

On March 9, 2020:  CMS published guidance to hospitals with emergency departments (EDs) on patient screening, treatment and transfer requirements to prevent the spread of infectious disease and illness, including COVID-19. Medicare-participating hospitals are to follow both CDC guidance for infection control and Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requirements.

March 6, 2020: CMS issued frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) for healthcare providers regarding Medicare payment for laboratory test and other services related to the 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

March 5, 2020: CMS issued a second Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code for certain COVID-19 laboratory tests, in addition to three fact sheets about coverage and benefits for medical services related to COVID-19 for CMS programs.

March 4, 2020: CMS issued a call to action to healthcare providers nationwide and offered important guidance to help State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations prioritize their inspections of healthcare.

February 13, 2020: CMS issued a new HCPCS code for providers and laboratories to test patients for COVID-19.

February 6, 2020: CMS gave CLIA-certified laboratories information about how they can test for SARS-CoV-2.

February 6, 2020: CMS issued a memo to help the nation’s healthcare facilities take critical steps to prepare for COVID-19.


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