In Response to Hurricane Ida Public Health Emergency, CMS Announces Support for Residents of New Jersey and New York
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing flexibilities being provided to ensure health care access continues for residents in New Jersey and New York impacted by Hurricane Ida. On September 3, 2021, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra declared Public Health Emergencies (PHEs) for New Jersey and New York, in addition to those in Louisiana and Mississippi.
With these PHEs in effect, CMS is also notifying New Jersey and New York of the resources and waivers available to ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue to operate and provide access to care to those impacted by Hurricane Ida. Many of these waivers were already in place as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 PHE.
“CMS is acting to help the people of New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Our thoughts are with those facing this devastation, and our commitment stands to ensure people have continued access to care when they need it most.”
Below are key measures and resources for those affected and actions CMS is taking in response to the Hurricane Ida PHEs declared in New Jersey and New York:
Current COVID-19 Waivers: CMS has compiled a list of current waivers already available for health care providers to use during the COVID-19 PHE. These waivers remain available to providers in the states of New Jersey and New York who have been affected by Hurricane Ida. The new 1135 Emergency Waiver and PHE-Related Inquiries Web Tool launched on the CMS Waiver and Flexibilities webpage and can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/about-cms/emergency-preparedness-response-operations/current-emergencies/coronavirus-waivers
Disaster Toolkit and Support for State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Agencies: To prepare for current and future disasters, CMS developed an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities available to states in the event of a disaster to support Medicaid and CHIP operations and ensure continuity of coverage for people on Medicaid and CHIP during times of crisis. CMS also developed a disaster preparedness toolkit for state Medicaid agencies that contains a detailed list of available strategies that states may temporarily utilize during a PHE, including streamlining provider enrollment requirements, delaying renewal processing for individuals in affected areas, and suspending fee-for-service and managed care prior authorization requirements. CMS encourages state Medicaid and CHIP agencies in New Jersey and New York to reference this inventory and toolkit. For more information and to access the inventory and toolkit, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/index.html
Dialysis Care: CMS is helping people obtain and maintain access to critical life-saving services by activating the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program and working with the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Networks located in New Jersey and New York to assess the status of dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas. This includes assessing impacts related to generators, alternate water supplies, education and providing materials for patients, and more. They are also assisting people who evacuated ahead of the storm to receive dialysis services in the location to which they evacuated. CMS also advised people to keep an emergency supply kit on hand in a water proof bag, including important personal, medical, and insurance information; contact information for their facility; the ESRD NW hotline number; and contact information of those with whom they may stay or for out-of-state contacts. They have also been instructed to have supplies on-hand to follow a three-day emergency diet. The ESRD NW 2 (New York) toll-free hotline is 800-238-3773; ESRD NW 3 (New Jersey) toll-free hotline is 888-877-8400; and the KCER hotline is 866-901-3773. Additional information is available on the KCER website www.kcercoalition.com.
Medical Equipment and Supplies Replacements: CMS will temporarily waive certain requirements to enable people with Medicare who have lost or realized damage to their durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane to receive replacements of such items and services. This will help to ensure 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.
Ensuring Access to Care in Medicare Advantage and Part D: During a PHE, Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Plan sponsors must take steps to maintain access to covered benefits for beneficiaries in affected areas. These steps include allowing Part A/B and supplemental Part C plan benefits to be furnished at non-contracted facilities and waiving, in full, requirements for gatekeeper referrals where applicable.
Emergency Preparedness Requirements and Provider Expectations: CMS has provided specific Emergency Preparedness information to Medicare providers and suppliers through meetings, dialogue, and presentations, since November 2017.
CMS has a variety of resources available to providers and suppliers available at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertEmergPrep/Emergency-Prep-Rule.
CMS will continue to work with all geographic areas impacted by Hurricane Ida. We encourage beneficiaries and providers of healthcare services that have been impacted to seek help by visiting CMS’s emergency webpage (www.cms.gov/emergency).
To find additional hurricane preparedness and response resources for the health sector and the latest regarding HHS activities for Hurricane Ida, please visit: .
For more information about the HHS PHE, please visit: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/09/03/hhs-secretary-becerra-declares-public-health-emergencies-states-new-york-new-jersey-due-to-hurricane-ida.html.