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March 05, 2020

CMS Administrator Verma Comments on Coronavirus

On March 2, CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated that the agency was looking at how to pay for products and services within Medicare and Medicaid to address the coronavirus. In introducing Verma as a new member of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted that CMS plays a vital role in providing health care to seniors and in regulating long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Azar also commented on the role of CMS in funding care, including therapeutics, vaccines, or diagnostics.

While Verma did not provide further details on CMS’s plan, she stressed that CMS has long-standing infectious disease policies already in place, and the Wall Street Journal reported that CMS is in discussions about using the National Disaster Medical System reimbursement program to pay providers who treat uninsured patients infected with the COVID-19. For facilities and practitioners actively participating in the Medicare program, this could allow for reimbursement at about 110% of Medicare rates for those treating affected patients.