On April 4, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a press release announcing that people with Medicare Part B – including those in Medicare Advantage plans – can get up to eight free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests per month from participating pharmacies and providers for the duration of the current public health emergency (PHE).
As discussed in a previous CMA Alert, in January 2022, the Biden Administration announced that certain private insurance companies and group health plans must cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests. Medicare had been excluded from this requirement. Following pressure from advocates and policymakers urging CMS to find a way to cover such tests for all Medicare beneficiaries, CMS announced on February 3, 2022 that Medicare will cover such tests. CMS’ April 4 press release explains:
This is the first time that Medicare has covered an over-the-counter self-administered test at no cost to beneficiaries. This new initiative enables payment from Medicare directly to participating eligible pharmacies and other health care providers to allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive tests at no cost, in addition to the two sets of four free at-home COVID-19 tests Americans can continue to order from covidtests.gov. National pharmacy chains are participating in this initiative, including: Albertsons Companies, Inc., Costco Pharmacy, CVS, Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Pharmacies, H-E-B Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Kroger Family of Pharmacies, Rite Aid Corp., Shop & Stop, Walgreens and Walmart.
In addition to providing links to additional fact sheets, FAQs and other related documents, CMS’ press release states that:
A list of eligible pharmacies and other health care providers that have committed publicly to participate in this initiative can be found here. Because additional eligible pharmacies and health care providers may also participate, people with Medicare should check with their pharmacy or health care provider to find out whether they are participating. The Center for Medicare Advocacy thanks CMS for taking this action to provide free COVID tests to all Medicare beneficiaries.