Trump administration issues guidance on coverage mandates in COVID-19 legislation

The Trump administration issued guidance (PDF) late Saturday clarifying coverage requirements for private payers in two legislative packages passed to fight the virus outbreak.

Under the pair of bills, commercial health plans are required to provide access to COVID-19 testing and visits for care related to the virus—both in-person and through telehealth—at doctor's offices, urgent care centers and emergency departments available at no cost.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also said that the mandates will extend to antibody testing once it's made more readily available.

“It is critical that Americans have peace of mind knowing that cost won’t be a barrier to testing during this national public health emergency,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement. “Today’s action under the leadership of President Trump allows millions of Americans to access the vital health services they need to fight COVID-19, including antibody testing once it becomes widely available.”

RELATED: HHS partners with UnitedHealth to quickly disperse $30B in COVID-19 funding to providers

In March, representatives of the nation's largest health plans met with White House officials and pledged to offer testing coverage without cost-sharing. Since then, many insurers of all sizes have waived cost-sharing for telehealth and inpatient admissions related to COVID-19 as well.

CMS said that the antibody testing will be critical to easing the current social distancing requirements, and getting Americans—in particular, healthcare workers—back on the job.

"Once broadly available, a COVID-19 antibody test could become a key element in fighting the pandemic by providing a more accurate measure of how many people have been infected and potentially enabling Americans to get back to work more quickly," the agency said.