Date

Press release

CMS Continues Efforts to help with Hurricane Irma Emergency Response

Agency waivers take effect in Georgia and South Carolina

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today announced agency efforts that are underway to support Georgia and South Carolina in response to Hurricane Irma. This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., declared a public health emergency in Georgia and South Carolina. With the public health emergency in effect, CMS has taken several actions to provide immediate relief to those affected by the hurricane. The actions include temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements. Similar waivers have been issued and are in effect for Florida.

"CMS is committed to providing support to the areas affected by these historic hurricanes that continue to have a devastating impact on parts of our country," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "As Georgia and South Carolina prepare for Hurricane Irma, CMS issued waivers for both states to provide flexibility that would help meet the medical needs of the individuals and families affected. This is part of the agency's ongoing efforts to help the areas in the path of the storm."

The agency has taken the following steps to support the states and geographical areas that are impacted by Hurricane Irma: 

  • CMS Blanket Waivers:  With the public health emergency in effect, CMS has offered immediate administrative relief actions including issuing several general waivers of certain requirements for specific types of providers in impacted geographic areas. CMS can also waive or modify certain Medicare provisions for providers, including deadlines, conditions of participation and certification requirements. These waivers work to continue to provide access to care for beneficiaries. For more information on blanket waivers, visit: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/Hurricanes.html
  • Dialysis Care: CMS is designating dialysis facilities licensed in impacted areas, but not yet certified to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries, as Special Purpose Renal Dialysis Facilities if they meet certain criteria and request Medicare provider status so they can serve as Medicare dialysis facilities for a limited period of time. This is part of the agency’s ongoing response to support residents in the impacted areas who need access to these critical life-saving services. Dialysis patients who cannot receive dialysis services at their usual facility and who need assistance to locate a facility where they can be dialyzed, should contact ESRD IPRO Network 6 (GA, NC, SC) Patient Hotline (800) 878-6442. The following large dialysis organization hotline numbers are also available for patients: DaVita Emergency Dialysis Services: (800) 400-8331, Fresenius Kidney Care Emergency Hotline: (800) 626-1297, Dialysis Clinic Inc. (DCI) Emergency Command Center: (866)424-1990, and U.S. Renal Care Emergency Hotline: (866) 671-USRC (8772). Dialysis providers who wish to submit a Special Purpose Renal Dialysis Facility request or who wish to increase the number of stations should submit those requests to ROATLHSQ@cms.hhs.gov. CMS will coordinate with Network 6 to prioritize the requests.
  • Medical equipment and supplies replacements: CMS temporarily suspended certain requirements necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or realized damage to their durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane. This will help to make sure that beneficiaries can continue to access the needed medical equipment and supplies they rely on each day. Medicare beneficiaries can contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for assistance. For more information, please read the fact sheet online here: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/Downloads/Emergency-DME-Beneficiaries-Hurricanes.pdf.

CMS will continue to work with all states and geographic areas in the path of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. The agency continues to update our emergency page (www.cms.gov/emergency) with important information for state and local officials, providers, healthcare facilities and the public.

For updates regarding HHS activities related to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, please visit  https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/hurricane-response/index.html - Opens in a new window 

To learn more about HHS resources related to Hurricane Irma, please visit  www.phe.gov/irma - Opens in a new window  - External Link Policy - Opens in a new window 

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