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Encouraged by new rules from the Trump administration, doctors and nurses across the country have been conducting a flurry of virtual visits with seniors covered by Medicare, which normally will only pay for in-person visits.

But genetic counselors have been effectively blocked from serving seniors amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because genetic counselors now relegated to working from home can’t meet the longstanding Medicare requirement that a physician be physically present to supervise the visit in order for it to be conducted and paid for.


Genetic counselors are responsible for walking people through every step of the process of taking a physician-ordered genetic test, interpreting the results, and then making decisions about follow-up care. Today, they’re “basically shut off from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries,” said John Richardson, director of government relations and advocacy for the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

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