March 18, 2020

AMA Announces New CPT Code To Report Coronavirus Test

The American Medical Association (AMA) announced March 13 that a new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code to report coronavirus testing was approved by the CPT Editorial Panel to help streamline data-driven resource and allocation planning in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

The CPT Editorial Panel, an independent body convened by the AMA with sole authority to manage revisions to the CPT code set, expedited the code development process for the novel coronavirus test. The new code’s development, review and approval involved broad input from practicing physicians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts.

Effective immediately, CPT code 87635 Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), amplified probe technique, can be reported for testing for the novel coronavirus.

Per the standard early release delivery process for CPT codes, note that the code descriptor will need to be manually uploaded into electronic health record (EHR) systems. In addition to the long descriptor, code 87635 has short and medium descriptors that can be accessed on the AMA website. The new CPT code will be included in the complete CPT code set for 2021 later this year.

For Medicare patients, see Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes U0001 and U0002 that can be used by healthcare providers and laboratories to bill for certain COVID-19 diagnostic tests and non-CDC laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2/2019-nCoV (COVID-19) to help increase testing and track new cases.