CMS Acts to Help with Typhoon Yutu Emergency Response
From the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Agency waivers to take effect in the Northern Mariana Islands
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that the agency has acted to support the Northern Mariana Islands in response to Typhoon Yutu. This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency (PHE) in the Northern Mariana Islands. With the PHE in effect, CMS has taken several actions to provide immediate relief to those impacted by the typhoon. The actions will include temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements; creating special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare immediately; and taking steps to ensure dialysis patients obtain critical life-saving services.
“Our thoughts are with all affected by this devastating typhoon,” Administrator Seema Verma said. “CMS has taken the measures necessary to help support everyone that could be impacted. The waivers that will be in effect in the Northern Mariana Islands will give healthcare providers, facilities, and suppliers the flexibility to provide continued access to care in the wake of this unprecedented storm. We will continue to monitor the destruction caused by the typhoon and work closely with officials in the Northern Mariana Islands.”
Below are key administrative actions CMS is taking in response to the PHE declared in the Northern Mariana Islands:
- Waivers for Hospitals, Healthcare Facilities, and Clinicians: CMS will be temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS will be issuing a number of waivers as necessary, which will be listed on the website below, and the CMS Regional Office will be granting other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in the Northern Mariana Islands. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries. For more information on the waivers CMS will grant, visit: www.cms.gov/emergency.
- Special Enrollment Opportunities for Individuals Impacted by the Typhoon: CMS has made special enrollment periods available for all Medicare beneficiaries. This gives people impacted by the typhoon the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans immediately if eligible for the special enrollment period. For more information on these special enrollment periods, visit: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/EPRO/Past-Emergencies/Hurricanes-and-tropical-storms.html.
- 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. For more information and to access the toolkit, visit: https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/index.html.
- Dialysis Care: CMS is helping patients obtain access to critical life-saving services. The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program has been activated and is working with HSAG ESRD Network 17 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. The toll-free hotline for Network 17 is 1-800-232-3773 and the KCER hotline is 866-901-3773. Additional information is available on the Network 17 website at https://www.hsag.com/en/esrd-networks/esrd-network-17/emergency-preparedness/, or the KCER website https://www.kcercoalition.com/en/patients/
- Medical equipment and supplies replacements: CMS will temporarily suspend certain requirements necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or sustained 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. Medicare beneficiaries can contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for assistance.
- Suspension of Enforcement Activities: CMS will suspend current survey and enforcement activities for healthcare facilities in the affected areas of Georgia, 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 PHE, Part D Plan sponsors must take steps to maintain access to covered benefits for beneficiaries in affected areas.
- Provider Enrollment: CMS will temporarily waive and streamline provider enrollment requirements when enrolling providers to prevent a disruption in services to Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries.
CMS will continue to work with all areas impacted by Typhoon Yutu. We encourage beneficiaries and providers of healthcare services that have been impacted to seek help by visiting CMS’ emergency webpage (www.cms.gov/emergency).
To read previous updates regarding HHS activities related to natural disaster response and recovery efforts, visit www.phe.gov/emergency.