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CMS arranges dialysis services for renal patients displaced by Harvey, waives various requirements to bridge care gaps

Certain requirements for skilled nursing facilities, critical access hospitals and home health agencies have been waived, CMS says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Texas National Guardsmen assist residents affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey onto a military vehicle in Houston on Aug. 27. Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West.Texas National Guardsmen assist residents affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey onto a military vehicle in Houston on Aug. 27. Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are working in close coordination with the Kidney Community Emergency Response Network and the States of Texas and Louisiana to ensure that beneficiaries have access to facilities to provide crucial treatments to displaced, vulnerable storm victims.

[Also: MD Anderson cancels appointments; Memorial Hermann Sugar Land closes amid epic Harvey flooding]

CMS is supporting Texas and Louisiana in arranging Special Purpose Renal Dialysis Facilities, transporting patients to facilities and arranging for new facilities to open in order to serve beneficiaries without interruption. CMS is coordinating in Texas with workers on the ground that care for renal patient beneficiaries to ensure sufficient facilities for those in need of dialysis. The agency is accepting requests from end stage renal disease suppliers to become a temporary Special Purpose Renal Dialysis Facility, the agency said.

Public health emergencies were declared in both Texas and Louisiana, and CMS has issued several general waivers of certain requirements for specific types of providers in impacted counties and geographical areas. The waivers aim to prevent gaps in access to care for beneficiaries.

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[Also: Hurricane Harvey devastates critical access hospital, forces closure]

For skilled nursing facilities, the requirement for a 3-day prior hospitalization before admission in order to receive Medicare SNF services has been waived and provides temporary emergency coverage of services in SNFs without a qualifying hospital stay for people who are displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Also, certain people with Medicare benefits who recently exhausted their SNF benefits are authorized for renewed coverage without first having to start a new benefit period.

Another CMS waiver has provided relief to Home Health Agencies on the time frames related to completion of OASIS assessment data transmission.

[Also: HHS declares public health emergency in the wake of Hurricane Harvey]

Finally, CMS waived the requirements for critical access hospitals limiting the number of patient beds to 25 and allowed for length of stays beyond the capped 96-hour time period.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sandborn@himssmedia.com