COVID-19 Business Intelligence and Analysis for Clinical Laboratories, Pathology Groups and Hospital Administration

COVID-19 Briefings

Reliable COVID-19 Business Intelligence and analysis for clinical laboratories, pathology groups and Laboratory Diagnostics.

Overview of CMS Rule Changes Allowing Flexibility for COVID-19 Testing, Telehealth, and Hospital Operations

CMS maze of rules and regulations
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Recent changes in CMS rules are intended to increase the response capabilities of providers and hospitals to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a second interim final rule. CMS-5531-IFC expands access to telehealth, increases COVID-19 testing opportunities for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and augments the healthcare workforce.

Telehealth Implications

  • CMS will increase payments for telephone evaluation and management visits to be similar to office and outpatient visit rates. These payments will be retroactive to March 1, 2020.
  • Patients receiving opioid treatment may have their periodic assessments using telehealth.
  • CMS will update the telehealth code list on a sub-regulatory basis instead of the formal rule-making process. Requests from providers will be considered in making these updates.

COVID-19 Testing Implications

  • A written order by a provider is no longer required for COVID-19 testing for Medicare payment purposes.
  • CMS will cover certain COVID-19 serology tests.
  • CMS will cover clinical laboratory processing of certain FDA-authorized tests that are self-collected at home.

Increased Flexibility for Hospitals

  • CMS will allow temporary exceptions for certain provider-based hospital outpatient departments that relocate off-campus and will continue to pay these departments under the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System.
  • Providers may increase the number of beds for COVID-19 patients while receiving stable and predictable Medicare payments.
  • Certain requirements are being excepted to allow freestanding inpatient rehab facilities to accept patients from hospitals that are experiencing a surge, even if these patients do not need rehabilitation-related care.

Workforce Augmentation

  • Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and clinical nurse specialists will be allowed to provide home health services.
  • Medicare payments will not be reduced for teaching hospitals that move their residents to other hospitals in order to meet COVID-19 related needs, and hospitals without teaching programs will not be penalized for accepting these residents.

CMS-5531-IFC builds on previously announced waivers and rules. A complete description of the effects of this new rule change can be reviewed in the CMS regulations found here. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m., July 7, 2020.

Related Resources:


CMS-5531-IFC (Federal Register)


Helping Your Lab Stay Afloat During Challenging Times

Dear Colleague,

Robert L. MichelIn these challenging times for our colleagues in clinical laboratories, pathology practices and hospital administration, The Dark Intelligence Group (TDIG) — through generous grants from our partners — is bringing you the COVID-19 STAT Intelligence Briefings.

We’ve added analysts, writers and skilled editors to the COVID-19 STAT team to uncover, analyze, and immediately report to you what’s happening with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, packaged with the insights you need to deliver quality testing for patient care and keep your lab’s financial ship afloat. As part of our mission, we are also bringing you real-time data from our partners around testing that you will not find anywhere else.

Please let me know how we can better improve this service to fit your needs. If you would like to offer a grant to keep our mission going with this site, please contact me at


Robert L. Michel
President, Founder
The Dark Intelligence Group