CMS Continues Efforts to help with Hurricane Irma Emergency Response
Agency waivers take effect in Florida
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today announced the efforts that are underway to support Florida in response to Hurricane Irma. This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., declared a public health emergency in Florida. 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.
“We are very concerned for the residents of Florida and, as Hurricane Irma approaches, we are making sure that CMS has policies in place to help support the state,” Administrator Verma said. “The waivers that are now in effect in Florida will give healthcare providers, facilities, and suppliers the flexibility to provide continued access to care during this unprecedented time. We will continue to monitor the effects of the storm and work closely with officials in Florida.”
The agency has taken the following steps to support states and geographical areas 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 prevent gaps in 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 or ESRD HSAG Network 7 (FL) Patient Hotline (800) 826-3773. 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 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 7 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 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.
HHS Secretary Price also declared public health emergencies in Georgia and South Carolina. CMS will continue to work with all states and geographic areas in the path of these storms. The agency continues to update its emergency page (www.cms.gov/emergency) with important information for state and local officials, providers, healthcare facilities, suppliers and the public.
To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/hurricane-response/index.html.
To learn more about HHS resources related to Hurricane Irma, please visit www.phe.gov/irma