Following the lead of President Donald Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. today declared a public health emergency in Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey. In addition, he has taken action that gives HHS' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Medicare beneficiaries and their health care providers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.
"HHS is taking the necessary measures and has mobilized the resources to provide immediate assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey," said Secretary Price. "We recognize the gravity of the situation in Texas, and the declaration of a public health emergency will provide additional flexibility and authority to help those who have been impacted by the storm."
Secretary Price acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act. Many Medicare beneficiaries have been evacuated to neighboring communities where receiving hospitals and nursing homes may have no health care records, information on current health status or even verification of the person's status as a Medicare beneficiary. Due to the emergency declaration and other actions taken by HHS, CMS is able to waive certain documentation requirements to help ensure facilities can deliver care.
These actions and flexibilities will become effective at 12:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on August 28, 2017, but will have retroactive effect to August 25, 2017. Public health and safety information for Hurricane Harvey can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/harvey2017/Pages/default.aspx
NOTE: The public health emergency was effective when signed on August 26, with retroactive effect to August 25. The CMS waiver granting flexibilities (also signed on August 26) becomes effective 12:00 p.m. on August 28, but has retroactive effect to August 25.