On March 18, the president signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide for COVID-19-related emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2020, and various relief beyond this date. The bill was enacted into law immediately after the Senate voted on it. The final law largely is similar to the House bill released on March 14, 2020, but includes technical corrections that in some cases are substantive. The summary that follows relates to aspects of the legislation that might affect employers.
First-dollar coverage for coronavirus testing
The legislation requires employer group health plans (self-funded and insured) to provide coverage and prohibits imposition of cost sharing (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) or prior authorization or other medical management requirements for certain items and services furnished during the defined emergency period beginning on or after March 18, 2020. These items and services include testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 and related in vitro diagnostic products, as well as items and services furnished during healthcare provider office visits (in-person and telehealth), urgent care center visits, and emergency room visits that result in need for such testing and diagnostic products.
This first-dollar coverage doesn’t extend to medical services after testing or diagnosis. The legislation authorizes tri-agency – that is, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) – enforcement of the provision, as well as implementation through subregulatory guidance, program instruction, or otherwise.