SENIOR SIGNALS: Medicare, Medicaid will cover coronavirus testing

Published on Sunday, 15 March 2020 20:43
Written by Daniel O. Tully

With coronavirus dominating news coverage and creating alarm, it is important to know that Medicare and Medicaid will cover tests for the virus.

The department of Health and Human Services has designated the test for the new strain of coronavirus (officially called COVID-19) an essential health benefit. This designation means that Medicare and Medicaid will cover testing of beneficiaries who are suspected of having the virus. In order to be covered, a doctor or other health care provider must order the test. All tests on or after February 4, 2020, are covered, although your provider will need to wait until after April 1, 2020, to be able to submit a claim to Medicare for the test.

Congress has also passed an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to help federal agencies respond to the outbreak. The funding will provide federal agencies with money to develop tests and treatment options as well as help local governments deal with outbreaks.

As always, to prevent the spread of this illness or other illnesses, including the flu, take the following precautions:

Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Stay home when you’re sick.

See your doctor if you think you’re ill.

In an effort to protect a vulnerable part of our population, the Connecticut Department of Health is instructing all Connecticut nursing homes to restrict visitor access until further notice. This restriction is a precautionary measure and intended to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) from getting into the facility.

Family and friends will no longer be able to visit people in nursing homes unless there are special circumstances, such as end-of-life or hospice care. In these cases, the facility may allow visitors as long as it is appropriate. The Connecticut Department of Health is recommending that these visitors wear protective equipment.

Nursing homes have been advised that are exceptions to the emergency measures in place precluding visitation in facilities. Gov. Ned Lamont’s legal counsel has informed nursing homes that they must grant entry to an attorney who has a need to see a client in residence. Furthermore, you are not required to use a facility’s representative for your legal matters and/or Medicaid (Title 19) applications.

Seniors over the age of 70 and those with a compromised immune system are considered at higher risk for serious cases of the virus.

I admire my clients’ strength and tenacity. They have been through world wars and economic hardships and still soldier through. While I do not question the danger of COVID-19, I do know the strength of so many seniors in our area.

Be safe out there and wash your hands.

Attorney Daniel O. Tully is a partner in the law firm of Kilbourne & Tully, P.C., members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc., with offices at 120 Laurel St., Bristol .

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Sunday, 15 March 2020 20:43. Updated: Sunday, 15 March 2020 20:45.