CMS offers broad support for NC and SC with Hurricane Florence preparation

Sept. 14, 2018

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced efforts underway to support North Carolina and South Carolina in response to Hurricane Florence. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared public health emergencies (PHE) in both states. CMS is working to ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue operations and provide access to care despite the effects of Hurricane Florence. CMS has waived certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements; created special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare immediately; and taken steps to ensure dialysis patients obtain critical life-saving services.

Below are key administrative actions CMS has taken in response to the PHEs declared in NC and SC:

Waivers for hospitals and other healthcare facilities: 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 CMS Regional Offices have granted other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in North Carolina and South Carolina. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries.

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 people impacted by the hurricane the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans and gain access to health coverage on the Exchange immediately if eligible for the special enrollment period.

Disaster preparedness toolkit for state Medicaid agencies: CMS developed an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities available to states in the event of a disaster.

Dialysis care: CMS is helping patients obtain access to critical life-saving services. The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program has been activated ahead of the storm and is working with the End Stage Renal Disease Network of the South Atlantic, ESRD NW 6, to assess the status of dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas related to generators, alternate water supplies, education and materials for patients, and more. They are also assisting patients who have evacuated ahead of the storm to receive dialysis services in the location to which they are evacuating.

Patients have been educated to have an emergency supply kit on hand 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 in a water proof bag. They have also been instructed to have on hand supplies to follow a three-day emergency diet.

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 as 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.

Suspension of enforcement activities: CMS will suspend current survey and enforcement activities for healthcare facilities in NC and SC, but will continue to investigate allegations of immediate threat to patient health and safety.

Ensuring access to care in Medicare Advantage and Part D: During a public health emergency, 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 specified non-contracted facilities and waiving, in full, requirements for gatekeeper referrals where applicable.

CMS has the full release

Sponsored Recommendations

Enhancing Remote Radiology: How Zero Trust Access Revolutionizes Healthcare Connectivity

This content details how a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture ensures high performance, compliance, and scalability, overcoming the limitations of traditional VPN solutions...

Spotlight on Artificial Intelligence

Unlock the potential of AI in our latest series. Discover how AI is revolutionizing clinical decision support, improving workflow efficiency, and transforming medical documentation...

Beyond the VPN: Zero Trust Access for a Healthcare Hybrid Work Environment

This whitepaper explores how a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture ensures secure, least privileged access to applications, meeting regulatory requirements and enhancing user...

Enhancing Remote Radiology: How Zero Trust Access Revolutionizes Healthcare Connectivity

This content details how a cloud-enabled zero trust architecture ensures high performance, compliance, and scalability, overcoming the limitations of traditional VPN solutions...