The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Oct. 15 said it will incentivize labs to deliver quicker results to patients undergoing COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, Medicare will pay $100 only to laboratories that complete high throughput COVID-19 diagnostic tests within two calendar days of the specimen’s collection. Also effective Jan. 1, laboratories that take longer than two days to complete these tests will receive a $75 Medicare payment.

“As America continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, prompt testing turnaround times are more important than ever,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, noting that faster high throughput testing will allow patients and physicians to act quickly and decisively with respect to treatment decisions, physical isolation and contact tracing.

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