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July 7, 2020

Around the nation: Insurers are not required to cover back-to-work coronavirus tests

Daily Briefing

    New guidance from the Trump administration states that insurers are not required to cover coronavirus tests for the members if the member receives the test solely because the test is required for the enrollee to return to work, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Idaho, and Washington.

    • District of Columbia: The Trump administration last week released guidance stating that insurers are not required to cover coronavirus tests that may be required by a member's employer to be able to return to work. The new guidance clarifies that insurers must cover coronavirus testing for members without cost sharing only if a health care provider determines a test is "medically appropriate." As such, insurers do not have to cover "[t]esting conducted to screen for general workplace health and safety (such as employee "return to work" programs), for public health surveillance … or for any other purpose not primarily intended for individualized diagnosis or treatment of Covid-19 or another health condition," the guidance states (Cohrs, Modern Healthcare, 6/23).

    • Idaho: Gov. Brad Little (R) last month signed an executive order that permanently extends changes Little had authorized earlier this year to relax certain telehealth regulations amid America's coronavirus epidemic. "Our loosening of health care rules since March helped to increase the use of telehealth services, made licensing easier, and strengthened the capacity of our health care workforce … without compromising safety," Little said, adding, "Now it's time to make those health care advances permanent moving forward" (Drees, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/23).

    • Washington: Washington University and St. Louis University have announced they will incorporate telemedicine training into the academic curriculums for their medical schools. Tom De Fer, associate dean of medical student education at Washington University, said the school made the change because "there will continue to be way more telemedicine visits than there would be otherwise" because of the country's coronavirus epidemic, "and we don't want our students to miss out on that opportunity." According to Becker's Hospital Review, the Association of American Medical Colleges will advise the two schools, as well as others throughout America, on developing telehealth curriculums (Drees, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/22).

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