Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could change the way it pays for COVID-19 tests, a top federal health official suggested this week. The move would come just months after the agency doubled the reimbursement for high-volume coronavirus lab tests. 

CMS Administrator Seema Verma hinted on Tuesday that a new, outcome-based reimbursement strategy for COVID-19 tests could be coming soon for providers, according to a report by Inside Health Policy.

“Right now, we’re paying for two different types of tests but really thinking about, is that the appropriate way to reimburse for testing?” Verma asked. 

“Maybe we need to be more focused on results and outcomes around testing rather than just for certain types of tests so we’re looking at a reimbursement strategy,” she added. 

In April, officials announced that Medicare would pay $100 for COVID-19 clinical diagnostic lab tests that use high-throughput technology through the end of the public health emergency. At the time, CMS said increasing Medicare payment for the tests would help laboratories expand its testing capabilities for nursing home communities.

“This is an absolute game-changer for nursing homes, where risk of Coronavirus infection is high among our most vulnerable,” Verma said of the move in April. “CMS has made a critical move to ensure adequate reimbursement for advanced technology that can process a large volume of COVID-19 tests rapidly and accurately.”