Press release

CMS Takes Steps to help with Hurricane Nate Emergency Response

CMS Takes Steps to help with Hurricane Nate Emergency Response

Agency waivers take effect in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today announced agency efforts underway to support Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi in response to Hurricane Nate. On Oct. 8, 2017, Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., declared a public health emergency in these four states. 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.

“As Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi work to recover from Hurricane Nate, CMS issued waivers for all four states to provide flexibility that would help meet the medical needs of the individuals and families affected,” said Administrator Seema Verma. “We will not stop working to do all we can to help support the areas and individuals affected by Hurricane Nate.”

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

  • Waivers for Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities:  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 Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries.  For more information on the waivers CMS granted, visit: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/Hurricanes.html
  • 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: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2017-Press-releases-items/2017-09-28.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) 524-7139. 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.
  • Healthcare Provider Hotline:  CMS established a toll-free hotline servicing Medicare’s Part B providers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. 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 temporarily waiving the application fee, finger print based criminal background checks, site visits, and in-state licensure requirements usually required for Medicare billing privileges. The toll-free hotline telephone number is (855)247-8428.

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

To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to it hurricane response and recovery, visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/hurricane-response/index.html