Press release

CMS facilitates access to care for dialysis patients impacted by Hurricane Harvey

CMS facilitates access to care for dialysis patients impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Agency takes steps to address gaps in care during the public health emergency

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today announced that the agency is designating dialysis facilities licensed in Texas and Louisiana, but not yet certified to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries, as Special Purpose Renal Dialysis Facilities (SPRDF) 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.

"Access to care for people living with renal diseases and disorders is critical to timely treatments and monitoring,” Verma said. “This vulnerable population of people with Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits and their families are encouraged to take advantage of available resources to ensure their care is managed as we all work together to use innovative approaches to keep facilities, healthcare providers and ancillary resources available."

CMS is working closely with The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) network and End Stage Renal Disease Network (ESRD NW) of Texas NW 14, to identify and provide access to dialysis facilities in the vicinity of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. CMS will work with Louisiana officials to address dialysis treatment access if a situational need develops. This special purpose designation makes dialysis resources available for Medicare patients who were evacuated or were otherwise displaced by flood waters, lack of electricity and other shortfalls created during this emergency.

Verma said: "We are extremely proud to work with these agencies, dialysis facilities, nephrologists and others who are assisting these vulnerable populations in accessing care. Especially those triaging care at these shelter sites with dialysis patients and helping displaced patients who require coordination of transportation to dialysis facilities."

CMS estimates that there are more than 8,700 dialysis patients with Medicare in Harris County, Texas, and in the Greater Beaumont and Port Arthur areas of Texas. In Louisiana, there are about 11,600 people with dialysis care needs on Medicare; five parishes have reported impact from storm waters.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., declared public health emergencies in both states. Actions taken by CMS to assist states in providing care to impacted beneficiaries include temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements to provide immediate relief to those affected by the hurricane and resulting floods.

CMS and HHS continue to work closely with the KCER network, Texas and Louisiana to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to facilities providing their treatments. As CMS continues to support Texas and Louisiana in arranging the SPRDFs, the agency is accepting requests from dialysis suppliers to receive the temporary designation. Requests from suppliers should be submitted to RODALDSC@cms.hhs.gov.

Dialysis Resources include:

  • In Texas: Texas ESRD Emergency Coalition (TEEC) 866-407-3773
  • ESRD NW 14 Emergency Patient Line (toll free) – 877-886-4435 or 972-503-3215
  • In Louisiana: ESRD NW 13 Patient Line (toll free) -- 800-472-8664

CMS continues to work with Texas and Louisiana to provide support they need with respect to CMS programs and issues impacting CMS beneficiaries. The agency continues to update its emergency page (www.cms.gov/emergency) with important information for state and local officials, providers, healthcare facilities and the public.

To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/news.

To learn more about HHS resources related to Hurricane Harvey, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/hurricane-harvey.

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