AMA announces new CPT codes for tests aimed at detecting COVID-19 and flu

A person holds a positive COVID-19 test
Two of the American Medical Association's newly approved codes report nucleic acid assays that allow a single test to simultaneously detect the COVID-19 virus and common viral infectious agents that cause the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. (jarun011/Getty)

The American Medical Association (AMA) announced new CPT codes for multi-virus tests used to detect COVID-19 and flu with a single test.

The AMA update was published to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set that also includes editorial revisions for reporting medical services that have become part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new CPT code set was approved for immediate use. 

Two of the newly approved codes report nucleic acid assays that allow a single test to simultaneously detect the COVID-19 virus and common viral infectious agents that cause the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

“Concurrent detection promises to conserve important testing resources, allowing for ongoing surveillance of influenza while testing for the novel coronavirus," AMA President Susan Bailey, M.D., said in a statement.

RELATED: CPT code expected soon to report and bill for coronavirus tests

The CPT editorial panel is an independent body convened by the AMA with the sole authority to manage revisions to the CPT code set. The new codes come more than six months after the AMA approved a CPT code allowing physicians to bill for coronavirus.

 The CPT editorial panel also revised CPT codes ranging from 87301 to 87430 by removing the undefined term “multi step method” from code descriptors. The revision clarifies the proper reporting for antigen tests that are read by a machine as compared to those which can be visually interpreted without a machine. This revision affects the newly developed descriptor for CPT code 87426.

The descriptors for the codes can be accessed on the AMA website.