CMS announces resources & flexibilities to assist w/Puerto Rico's public health emergency
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today additional resources and flexibilities available in response to Hurricane Fiona in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. CMS is working closely with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to put these flexibilities in place to ensure those affected by this natural disaster have access to the care they need – when they need it most.
On September 18, 2022, President Biden determined that an Emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico due to the emergency conditions resulting from the then Tropical Storm Fiona beginning on September 17, 2022, and continuing. Additionally, on September 20, 2022, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra determined that a Public Health Emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and has existed since September 17, 2022.
CMS stands ready to assist with resources and waivers to ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue to operate and provide access to care to those impacted by the consequences of the hurricane.
The following is key information and resources for those affected and actions CMS is taking in response to the hurricane in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico:
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Waivers: CMS waivers are available to providers in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico who have been affected by Hurricane Fiona and COVID-19 waivers remain for those affected by the pandemic. The non-COVID-19 emergency waivers can be found here. Health care providers who need additional flexibilities specific to the effects resulting from Hurricane Fiona can submit a request to CMS here.
Disaster Toolkit and Support for State Medicaid and CHIP Agencies: To prepare for current and future disasters, CMS has developed an inventory of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) flexibilities and authorities available to states in the event of a disaster to support Medicaid and CHIP operations and ensure continuity of coverage for people served through Medicaid and CHIP programs during times of crisis. For more information and to access the inventory and toolkit, visit here.
Dialysis Care: CMS is helping people obtain and maintain access to critical life-saving services by activating the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program and working with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Network 3, which is responsible under a contract with CMS for assessing the status of dialysis facilities in potentially impacted areas of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This includes assessing impacts related to generators, alternate water supplies, providing education and materials for patients, and more. ESRD Network 3 is also assisting people to receive dialysis services in the location to which they evacuated. CMS, through ESRD Network 3, has also advised people to keep an emergency supply kit on hand in a waterproof bag, containing important personal, medical, and insurance information; contact information for their dialysis facility; the ESRD Network hotline number; and contact information of those with whom they may stay or for out-of-state contacts. They have also been instructed to have on hand supplies to follow a three-day emergency diet.
The ESRD Network 3 (Puerto Rico) toll-free hotline is 888-877-8400.
Additional information is available on the KCER website.
Medical Equipment and Supplies Replacements: CMS will temporarily waive certain requirements to enable people with Medicare who have lost or realized damage to their durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane to receive replacements of such items and services. This will help to ensure 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.
CMS will continue to work with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and those areas impacted by the hurricane. We encourage beneficiaries and providers of healthcare services that have been impacted to seek help by visiting CMS’s emergency webpage.
To find additional preparedness and response resources for the health sector and emergency management professionals, please visit here.