Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra declared public health emergencies for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi due to Hurricane Ida according to a release.
The declarations, along with waivers Secretary Becerra authorized under the Social Security Act, give the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs in disasters.
“Hurricane Ida made landfall as an extremely dangerous storm and is carving a path of destruction that poses a significant threat to health and safety,” Secretary Becerra said. “These declarations and waivers help ensure that some of the most vulnerable residents of Louisiana and Mississippi – beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid –have continuous access to the care they need in the aftermath of this storm. We stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support to help impacted communities respond and recover.”
In declaring the public health emergency and authorizing flexibilities for CMS beneficiaries, Secretary Becerra acted within his authority under the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act. These actions and flexibilities are retroactive to August 26, 2021, for the state of Louisiana and retroactive to August 28, 2021, for the state of Mississippi.
HHS also staged an incident management team in Dallas to provide post-storm coordination of federal health and medical support. Teams from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Disaster Medical System who were responding to the COVID-19 surge in Louisiana and other Gulf states stand ready to pivot support the Hurricane Ida response. These medical professionals will be available quickly to help health authorities and healthcare facilities respond to medical needs.
To help meet the needs of vulnerable populations, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and CMS are collaborating with state health authorities to provide data that the health departments can use to assist Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, such as oxygen concentrators or wheelchairs, and home health services.