Coronavirus lab tests for nursing home residents must be covered by Medicare Administrative Contractors and Medicare Advantage plans, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Friday. 

“Medicare Advantage plans must continue not to charge cost sharing (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) or apply prior authorization or other utilization management requirements for COVID-19 tests and testing-related services,” the agency said. 

The move follows updated testing guidelines for nursing homes released in mid June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Starting July 6, MACs must make Medicare coverage determinations for lab tests to detect infections in residents that are consistent with several sections under the CDC guidance: viral testing of residents, initial viral testing in response to an outbreak, recommended testing to determine resolution of infection, and public health surveillance. 

“These sections identify diagnostic and non-diagnostic testing situations for nursing home residents and patients,” CMS explained in a memo.