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CMS offers broad support for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with Hurricane Maria recovery

CMS offers broad support for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with Hurricane Maria recovery

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today outlined broad agency efforts underway in support of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in support of the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts. CMS has taken numerous actions to help those impacted by the storm and ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue operations and provide access to care. During the past few weeks, CMS has waived numerous Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements, created special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare immediately, and helped dialysis patients obtain critical life-saving services. CMS has also created a hotline for doctors assisting with hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

“At the direction of President Trump, CMS is doing everything within its power to provide assistance and relief to those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Seema Verma, CMS Administrator. “We are coordinating with federal and local officials to make sure that our beneficiaries, many of whom are some of America’s most vulnerable citizens, have access to the healthcare they need. Our hearts and thoughts are with those who have suffered. We are driven by a passion for our work and won’t stop until those that need access to care are taken care of.”

Below are a few of the administrative actions CMS has taken on behalf of Hurricane Maria recovery for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • Waivers for Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities:  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared public health emergencies Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With the public health emergencies in effect, CMS has temporarily waived or modified certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS issued a number of blanket waivers, listed on the website below; and the Regional Office has granted other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries.  For more information on the waivers CMS granted, visit:
  • Special Enrollment Opportunities for Hurricane Victims:  CMS has made available special enrollment periods for all Medicare beneficiaries and certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. This gives individuals and families impacted by the hurricanes the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans and gain access to health coverage on the Exchange immediately if eligible for a special enrollment period. For more information on these special enrollment periods, visit:
  • Healthcare Provider Hotline:  CMS established a toll-free hotline servicing Medicare’s Part B providers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The hotline is intended to assist healthcare providers helping with recovery efforts enroll in federal health programs and receive temporary Medicare billing privileges. To assist in this effort CMS, is waiving the application fee, finger print based criminal background checks, site visits, and in-state licensure requirements. The toll-free hotline telephone number is 1-855-247-8428.
  • Dialysis Care:  CMS is helping patients evacuated get access to critical life-saving services.  This includes ensuring the safe transfer of patients to qualified facilities in Florida and Georgia and coordinating wrap around services for those beneficiaries. CMS has also been working with the kidney response center to account for dialysis patients on the island and working with the major dialysis providers to get adequate water and fuel to those facilities as well as to ensure all patients are able to get to their treatments.

CMS will continue to work with all geographic areas impacted by recent hurricanes. We encourage people with federal benefits and providers of health care services that have been impacted by hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria to seek help by visiting CMS’ emergency webpage (

To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to it hurricane response and recovery, visit - Opens in a new window