Low Medicare payments limited COVID-19 testing for months

The number of labs that screened Americans for COVID-19 was limited early in the outbreak due to insufficient Medicare payments, according to USA Today.

In a discussion with reporters in April, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the low reimbursements played a role in the shortages. The Medicare reimbursement rate per test for the first three and a half months of 2020 — $51 — was too low, and forced labs to shoulder losses from the tests. This kept labs from expanding testing capacity and created nationwide shortages. 

In the week after the reimbursement was increased to $100 on April 14, the number of COVID-19 tests that labs conducted grew by 44 percent, according to USA Today. Analysts say by that time, the nation had already lost time to contain the pandemic, and labs had racked up losses.

Read the full report here

 

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