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CMS waives certain Medicare, Medicaid requirements, activates emergency dialysis measures in Carolinas ahead of Florence

Agency has issued blankets waivers to unburden providers, opened special enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries to get, change coverage.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Hurricane FlorenceHurricane Florence

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is waiving some Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program requirements, opening healthcare coverage special enrollment opportunities and taking steps to ensure dialysis patients aren't deprived of services as Hurricane Florence threatens a large swath of the Eastern seaboard.

"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," said Seema Verma, CMS Administrator.

As part of the effort to enable emergency care during Hurricane Florence and ensure continued access to care, CMS has issued a number of blanket waivers and other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in North Carolina and South Carolina such that providers will not have to request them separately.

The agency has also opened 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," CMS said.

CMS is enabling continued access to dialysis services through the Kidney Community Emergency Response program, which has been activated and is working with the End Stage Renal Disease Network of the South Atlantic to assess dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas with regard to such things as generators, alternate water supplies, education and materials for patients. 

Patients who have already been evacuated are getting help in finding dialysis services in their new locations, CMS said.

Medicare beneficiaries who lose or sustain damage to their durable medical equipment such as prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane will see the agency waive certain requirements to ensure beneficiaries regain the medical equipment and supplies they need. 

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared public health emergencies in both North and South Carolina in anticipation of Hurricane Florence.

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