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COVID-19 Guidance: Data Reporting, Optional Medicaid Eligibility Group

New guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides information about reporting COVID-19 lab test data, as required by Section 18115 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Labs must report demographic data, including patient age, race, ethnicity, sex, zip code, and county; the agency will use this information to ensure equitable testing access and track infection in vulnerable groups.

All labs must submit data to HHS within 24 hours of collection in one of three ways:

  • directly to state or local public health departments, which then will submit deidentified data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • to a centralized platform, such as the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ Informatics Messaging System platform, which then will submit data to state or public health departments to deidentify before submitting to CDC; or
  • to state or local public health departments via a health information exchange.

When possible, data should be collected with health information technology certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT 2015 Edition certification criteria, structured in accordance with the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability, and transmitted with Health Level 7 electronic laboratory reporting implementation guides.

Optional COVID-19 Eligibility Group Guidance

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created a new, optional Medicaid eligibility group that covers COVID-19 testing for uninsured individuals. New guidance outlines alternative strategies states can use to meet implementation requirements, including eligibility, enrollment, claiming, and data reporting.

States that amend their state plans to cover the optional COVID-19 testing eligibility group will receive the 100 percent Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for beneficiary services, as well as certain administrative expenditures, such as systems development, that otherwise would be eligible for 50 percent FMAP.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Emily Schweich is a communications manager at America's Essential Hospitals.

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