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Medlearn Matters Special Edition 1615 (SE1615): Zika Virus Testing

On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)1. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Zika virus disease is a nationally notifiable condition that has caused outbreaks in many countries and territories.

The virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, although other modes of transmission include mother-to-child transmission, blood transfusion and sexual transmission.2 Currently there are a few diagnostic tests that can determine the presence of the virus. These tests are available through the CDC and CDC-approved state health laboratories. A small number of tests have been issued an Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may be available through commercial laboratories.

On June 27 2016, CMS released SE 1615 informing the public that Medicare covers Zika virus testing under Medicare Part B as long as the clinical diagnostic laboratory test is reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of a person’s illness or injury.

Presently there are no specific HCPCS codes for testing of the Zika virus; however, laboratories should contact their local MACs for guidance on the appropriate billing codes to use on claims for Zika virus testing. Furthermore, laboratories should provide resources and cost information as may be requested by the MACs in order for the MACs to establish appropriate payment amounts for the tests.

MM SE1615 can be read here in tis entirety: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/Downloads/SE1615.pdf