CMS allows pharmacies to bill Medicare for COVID-19 tests

Maia Anderson -

CMS implemented a temporary policy that allows pharmacies to bill Medicare for COVID-19 tests, a move that could increase the number of pharmacies able to offer diagnostic testing, Bloomberg Law reported. 

Pharmacies can apply for waivers letting them enroll as independent clinical diagnostic laboratories, which are regulated by CMS. 

Before the new policy was implemented May 8, pharmacies could only offer testing as an out-of-pocket expense because they weren't considered providers through CMS, according to Bloomberg Law. But pharmacies can now get reimbursed by CMS for providing tests, which could encourage more pharmacies to offer testing. 

Pharmacies must be enrolled in the Medicare program and receive a waiver under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act, which allows pharmacies to run simple lab tests and procedures.

Michael Klesper, PharmD, a pharmacy professor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., told Bloomberg Law that pharmacies can receive the waiver by filling out two pages of paperwork and paying $150 to CMS every two years. More than 10,000 pharmacies already have the waiver, he said. 

With the waiver, pharmacies can run any diagnostic test that has received an emergency use authorization from the FDA, according to Bloomberg Law. 

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