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CMS Responds to Hurricane Dorian Public Health Emergencies

Following Hurricane Dorian, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued blanket waivers for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements for affected areas, as well as state-specific Section 1812(f) waivers for Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declared a public health emergency in these four states and Puerto Rico.

Additionally, CMS is offering a special enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries and for select individuals seeking health plans through the federal health insurance marketplace who were affected by the hurricane.

The agency suspended requirements for Medicare beneficiaries seeking replacement medical equipment and supplies and temporarily halted for health care facilities survey and enforcement activities that, in their absence, do not pose an immediate threat to patient health and safety.

CMS also activated the Kidney Community Emergency Response program to provide dialysis services and is working with state End Stage Renal Disease networks to assess the status of dialysis facilities in affected areas.

The agency in 2018 held an emergency preparedness webinar for health care providers that outlined the Emergency Preparedness final rule, emergency power supply, the Section 1135 waiver process, and lessons learned from disasters. The agency also released a disaster response toolkit that compiles Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities for state Medicaid agencies.

America’s Essential Hospitals has created a resource page dedicated to disaster response tools for essential hospitals. Visit this page regularly for new and updated information.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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