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Waivers & flexibilities


Waivers & flexibilities

How is a disaster or emergency declared?

The President may, under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act, declare a major disaster or emergency if:

  • Asked by the Governor of an affected state.
  • The event is beyond the combined response capabilities of the state and affected local governments. 

When can we use waivers & flexibilities?

If there’s a Presidential declaration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary may, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, declare that a Public Health Emergency (PHE) exists in the affected state. Once a PHE is declared, section 1135 of the Social Security Act authorizes the Secretary, among other things, to temporarily modify or waive certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements that we find are necessary.

How do waivers & flexibilities help?

When there’s a disaster or emergency, waivers and flexibilities help hospitals and other health care facilities give timely care to as many people who’ve been affected as possible. This means we’re helping states and U.S. territories to make sure people with Medicare and/or Medicaid continue to have access to care.

We’ll use the allowable flexibilities and issue waivers as needed to help those affected by an emergency or disaster. If needed, specific waivers may be retroactive to the beginning of the emergency or disaster. We can also adjust some agency policies or procedures, usually without reprogramming our systems. You can find out about flexibilities and authorities that can be used in an emergency or disaster below and on the Hurricanes page.

What are blanket waivers?

Under Section 1135 or 1812(f) of the Social Security Act, we can issue several blanket waivers when there’s a disaster or emergency. When a blanket waiver’s issued, providers don’t have to apply for an individual waiver. Blanket waivers prevent access to care gaps for beneficiaries affected by the emergency. If there’s no blanket waiver, providers can ask for an individual Section 1135 waiver by following our instructions.

Where can I find out more about waivers & flexibilities?

You can find:

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