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New Updates for COVID-19 Lab Codes

Modifier QW

The Medicare and Medicaid only pay for laboratory tests performed in certified facilities, each claim for a HCPCS code that is considered a CLIA laboratory test is currently edited at the CLIA certificate level. 

To be recognized as a test that can be performed in a facility having a CLIA certificate of waiver for listed below CPT codes and the modifier QW must be added.

The CMS released updates for adding modifier QW for COVID-19 lab codes with effective date of service.

  • The Medicare contractor shall permit the use of code 87636 QW for claims submitted by facilities with a valid, current CLIA certificate of waiver with dates of service on or after October 6, 2020 and effective from July 1, 2021
  • The Medicare contractor shall permit the use of code 87428 QW for claims submitted by facilities with a valid, current CLIA certificate of waiver with dates of service on or after November 10, 2020.

  • The Medicare contractor shall permit the use of code 87811 QW for claims submitted by facilities with a valid, current CLIA certificate of waiver with dates of service on or after October 6, 2020.

    • The Medicare contractor shall permit the use of code 87635 QW for claims submitted by facilities with a valid, current CLIA certificate of waiver with dates of service on or after March 20, 2020.

    New Codes Effective November 10, 2020

    • 87428 - Infectious agent antigen detection by immunoassay technique, (eg, enzyme immunoassay [EIA], enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA], fluorescence immunoassay [FIA], immunochemiluminometric assay [IMCA]) qualitative or semiquantitative; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (eg, SARS-CoV, SARSCoV-2 [COVID-19]) and influenza virus types A and B

    New Codes Effective October 6, 2020 

    The listed new codes are on the national HCPCS file with an effective date of October 6, 2020 and do not need to be manually added to the HCPCS files by the MACs. 

    However, these new codes are contractor priced (where applicable) until they are nationally priced and undergoes the CLFS annual payment determination process in accordance with the Social Security Act § 1833(h)(8), § 1834A(c) and § 1834(A)(f).

    • 87636 - Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]) and influenza virus types A and B, multiplex amplified probe technique.
    • 87637 - Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); Bartonella henselae and Bartonella quintana, amplified probe technique severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS- CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), influenza virus types A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus, multiplex amplified probe technique
    • 87811 -  Infectious agent antigen detection by immunoassay with direct optical (ie, visual) observation; Streptococcus, group B severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]).



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