CMS issues guidance to allow MA, Part D plans to waive coronavirus cost-sharing 

Calculator that says "Medicare" on it on top of money, next to bottle of pills
MA and Part D plans have new flexibilities to respond to coronavirus. (Getty Images/liveslow)

The Trump administration has issued guidance to allow Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to waive the cost-sharing associated with coronavirus testing. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a moratorium (PDF) late Tuesday highlighting plan sponsors’ options to ease cost barriers associated with the spread of COVID-19. MA and Part D plans can waive members’ cost-sharing for tests or to visits to doctor’s offices, emergency departments or via telehealth. 

Medicare Advantage and Part D plans also have the option to nix prior authorization requirements, waive limits on prescription refills, ease restrictions to home prescription delivery or grow access to telehealth, CMS said. 

“The president directed CMS to make sure Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have access to healthcare services they need during this time,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement

RELATED: Why waiving cost-sharing for coronavirus tests may not actually solve cost barriers 

“Medicare beneficiaries are at the greatest risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 and CMS will continue to do everything in our power to protect them,” Verma said. 

The waivers, CMS said, will allow MA and Part D plans to work more effectively with providers and respond more nimbly to potential cases of the novel coronavirus. 

President Donald Trump urged CMS to allow MA and Part D plans greater flexibility to respond to the growing outbreak, which has sickened more than 1,000 people and lead to at least 31 deaths in the U.S. to date, following a meeting with big-name health insurers on Tuesday

That meeting included Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House’s coronavirus task force. 

“Working together with government leaders and industry partners, we can overcome this challenge and keep the American people safe and healthy,” America’s Health Insurance Plans CEO Matt Eyles said in a statement. 

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