The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it will “nearly double” the payment for lab tests that use high-throughput technologies for COVID-19 diagnoses. The agency will pay $100 for clinical diagnostic lab tests that can process more than 200 specimens a day as of April 14 and for the duration of the national emergency. The agency said Medicare administrative contractors will continue to set rates for other tests, many of which are reimbursed at $51.
The U.S. FDA said it has postponed the planned May 5 meeting with industry to take up the next medical device user fee schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was originally scheduled for April 3, which was also postponed due to the pandemic. The FDA said it will announce a new date once the agency and stakeholders have agreed upon one.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the Right to Test Act of 2020 would allow the states to authorize the approval and distribution of diagnostic tests when that state or the U.S. federal government has declared a public health emergency. Cruz said this bill and the Equal Access to Care Act of 2020 – drafted to expand coverage of telemedicine both over the phone and via teleconferencing software and hardware – would “remove bureaucratic barriers that have stood in the way of effective telemedicine and making testing more widely available.” Cruz is on the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees
The U.S. Department of Justice said it has come to terms with Logan Laboratories Inc., of Tampa, Fla., regarding allegations the lab billed a number of federal health programs for unnecessary urine testing for drugs. Logan Labs, a reference lab, and its Tampa Pain Relief Centers Inc., subsidiary (also of Tampa) have agreed along with two executives to pay $41 million to resolve the allegations that the two clinics filed false claims between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2017. The whistleblowers involved in the suit will receive $7.8 million.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission said it may be impractical to adjust reimbursement rates for accountable care organizations (ACOs) under Medicare, given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The commission said ACOs should focus their efforts to combat the pandemic, and that the CMS should not use claims data from the current calendar year to compute quality bonuses and other incentive payments, and that the agency should consider adding a three-year extension of the Nextgen ACO model.