CMS, CDC Announce Available Payments for Counseling on Self-Isolation of COVID-19 Patients   

Original story posted on: July 31, 2020

Federal agencies warn of pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic viral spread.

Federal officials announced this week that they are making payments available to physicians and providers for counseling patients receiving COVID-19 tests about the vital importance of self-isolation prior to the onset of symptoms.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the announcement on Thursday, while highlighting the benefits the change could portend.

“The transmission of COVID-19 occurs from both symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals, emphasizing the importance of education on self-isolation, as the spread of the virus can be reduced significantly by having patients isolated earlier, while waiting for test results or symptom onset,” the federal agencies said in a joint statement. “The CDC models show that when individuals who are tested for the virus are separated from others and placed in quarantine, there can be up to an 86 percent reduction in the transmission of the virus, compared to a 40 percent decrease in viral transmission if the person isolates after symptoms arise.”

Officials said that the covered provider counseling is to include a discussion with patients on the immediate need for isolation, the importance of informing all members of the patients’ households that they too should get tested, and the review of signs, symptoms, and services available to them to aid in isolating. Patients should also be directed to wear a mask at all times, and informed that they will be contacted by local public health authorities for participation in thorough contact tracing.

CMS said it will use existing evaluation and management (E&M) codes to reimburse eligible providers for such counseling, regardless of where a COVID-19 test is initiated, with covered sites including doctor’s offices, urgent care centers, hospitals, or even community drive-thru or pharmacy testing sites.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now reportedly sickened more than 17 million people worldwide, killing more than 660,000. The U.S. accounts for approximately a quarter of those figures.

Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for,, and Auditor Monitor who has been writing and editing material about the federal oversight of American healthcare for more than a decade. He can be reached at

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related Articles

  • COVID-19 Relief Package Still in Flux
    There is hope for a resolution before the Nov. 3 election. Watching negotiations for the next federal COVID-19 relief package for the past two weeks has been a bit like watching a tennis match from front-row seats. President Trump tweeted…
  • Updates on COVID-19 Billing and CS Modifier Audits
    The pandemic continues to impact Medicare reimbursement. COVID-19 continues to make news on the regulatory front with two new directives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), centering on testing for the deadly coronavirus and formal coding edits…
  • MSPB: Another Look at Cost and Efficiency
    MSPB could be the “new normal” for length of stay. We have all gotten to hear that phrase – a “new normal” – over the past 6-9 months, as we have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, and as tough as…