Deep within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, Congress approved a 20 percent add-on payment for in-patient Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with COVID-19.
The COVID-19 ICD-10 code must be present on all claims to receive the higher payment.
Physician and Minnesota state senator Scott Jensen, M.D. (R-Chaska ) on April 9 told Fox News physicians and hospitals might be influenced to classify more diagnoses and deaths as COVID-19 because of the higher payment.
“Right now, Medicare has determined that if you have a COVID-19 admission to the hospital, you’ll get paid $13,000,” said Jensen. “If that COVID-19 patient goes on a ventilator, you get $39,000—three times as much. Nobody can tell me, after 35 years in the world of medicine, that sometimes those kinds of things [don’t have an] impact on what you do.”
Guidance by the Centers for Disease Control states “if the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty” the patient had COVID-19, it can be listed as cause on the death certificate, even in the absence of a positive test.