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Pence Talks Telemedicine, Co-Pays In Coronavirus Update

The Trump administration has had discussions with top health care executives, urging them to waive co-pays and to cover treatment costs for coronavirus patients, Vice President Mike Pence said at a press briefing late Tuesday following a meeting of the White H

Benzinga · 03/11/2020 16:15

The Trump administration has had discussions with top health care executives, urging them to waive co-pays and to cover treatment costs for coronavirus patients, Vice President Mike Pence said at a press briefing late Tuesday following a meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

"They've committed to no surprise billing; and they've committed to encourage telemedicine," Pence said.

Medicaid was expanded to pay for telemedicine a year ago and Medicare is also paying for it, Pence said. Seniors who think they may be either at risk or have contracted the disease can now get medical advice without having to visit a doctor or go to an emergency room, he said. 

Related Link: How Close Are Biotechs To Bringing A COVID-19 Treatment To Market?

Pence said Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (NYSE: LH) and Quest Diagnostics Inc (NYSE: DGX) are in the process of distributing and marketing coronavirus tests nationwide. 

Over 4 million tests are to be made available throughout the country by the end of the week in addition to the 1 million already in place, the vice president said. 

"But as the testing is expanding, we wanted to make sure the American people knew that testing was available to them and that cost would not be a barrier," Pence said. 

Following requests for more flexibility in Medicare Advantage plans from insurance companies, the government issued guidance to its Medicare Advantage plans to waive costs of tests, remove prior authorization requirements and waive prescription refill limits.

"They can allow for mail delivery of prescription drugs and expand more access to telehealth services if they weren't offering that in their plan," said Sema Varma, healthy policy consultant and administrator of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Shares of telemedicine company Teladoc Health Inc (NYSE: TDOC), which opened 4.1% higher in reaction to the development, has since then given up the gains amid the negative broader market sentiment.

Teledoc shares were slipping 5.08% to $138.97 at the time of publication Wednesday. 

Lab Corp. shares were losing 5.53% to $161.04 and Quest shares were moving down by 5.23% to $100.79. 

Photo courtesy of Teladoc.