CMS Announces Efforts to Help Texas and Louisiana with Hurricane Harvey Recovery | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

CMS Announces Efforts to Help Texas and Louisiana with Hurricane Harvey Recovery

September 1, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma has announced efforts that are underway to support Texas and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., declared public health emergencies in both states. Actions include temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements to provide immediate relief to those affected by the hurricane and resulting floods.

Since the public health emergencies were declared, CMS has offered immediate administrative relief actions to Texas and Louisiana including issuing several general waivers of certain requirements for specific types of providers in impacted counties and geographical areas. These waivers work to prevent gaps in access to care for beneficiaries.

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF): CMS waives requirements for a 3-day prior hospitalization before admission in order to receive Medicare SNF services and provides temporary emergency coverage of services in SNFs without a qualifying hospital stay for people who are evacuated, transferred, or otherwise dislocated due to Hurricane Harvey. 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.
  • Home Health Agencies: This CMS waiver provides relief to Home Health Agencies on the timeframes related to completion of OASIS (assessment data) Transmission.
  • Critical Access Hospitals (CAH): CMS waives the requirements limiting the number of patient beds to 25, and allows for length of stays beyond the capped 96-hour time period.

With the public health emergency in effect, CMS can also waive or modify certain Medicare provisions for providers, including certain deadlines, conditions of participation and certification requirements. Providers can now submit waiver requests to the state survey agency or the CMS regional office and they will be evaluated to ensure that they meet the requirements set out under the law. To help clarify billing instructions, CMS has issued technical direction to the Medicare Administrative Contractors regarding the waivers and has reminded area Medicare Advantage plans regarding their responsibilities to relax certain requirements during a disaster or emergency.

As Healthcare Informatics also reported this week, there are ongoing health IT efforts to help with the recovery as well. Two organizations that have been deeply involved in helping clinicians and patients in southeast Texas this week are Greater Houston Healthconnect (GHHC), the Houston-area HIE; and Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA), the San Antonio-based HIE, as reported by Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland. Hagland spoke to the Texas HIE leaders; that story can be read right here in full.

CMS and HHS are also working in close coordination with the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Network and the States of Texas and Louisiana to ensure that beneficiaries have access to facilities to provide their treatments, officials said. As the CMS response continues, other efforts include, 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.

“In light of the natural disaster still unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, CMS is committed to acting as quickly and effectively as possible so the States can continue to ensure the vital health care needs of our most vulnerable beneficiaries are not interrupted,” Administrator Verma said in a statement. “CMS is in constant communication with officials in Texas and Louisiana to be sure we are doing all we can to support those in the path of this historic and devastating storm.”

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Adam Boehler Tapped by Azar to Serve as Senior Value-Based Care Advisor

Adam Boehler, currently director of CMMI, has also been named the senior advisor for value-based transformation and innovation, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced.

Vivli Launches Clinical Research Data-Sharing Platform

On July 19 a new global data-sharing and analytics platform called Vivli was unveiled. The nonprofit group’s mission is to promote, coordinate and facilitate scientific sharing and reuse of clinical research data.

Survey: More Effective IT Needed to Improve Patient Safety

In a Health Catalyst survey, physicians, nurses and healthcare executives said ineffective information technology, and the lack of real-time warnings for possible harm events, are key obstacles to achieving their organizations' patient safety goals.

Physicians Still Reluctant to Embrace Virtual Tech, Survey Finds

While consumers and physicians agree that virtual healthcare holds great promise for transforming care delivery, physicians still remain reluctant to embrace the technologies, according to a new Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey.

Geisinger, AstraZeneca Partner on Asthma App Suite

Geisinger has partnered with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to create a suite of products that integrate into the electronic health record and engage asthma patients and their providers in co-managing the disease.

Analysis: Healthcare Ransomware Attacks Decline in First Half of 2018

In the first half of 2018, ransomware events in major healthcare data breaches diminished substantially compared to the same time period last year, as cyber attackers move on to more profitable activities, such as cryptojacking, according to a new report form cybersecurity firm Cryptonite.