CMS Expands Hurricane Harvey Waivers to Irma

Providers in affected areas will be able to better help patients get replacements for lost or damaged DME.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma carving its way across the Caribbean and the U.S. Southeast, CMS has expanded the guidance it originally applied to DMEPOS beneficiaries affected by Hurricane Harvey to patients impacted by this week’s massive hurricane.

Under the blanket rider, CMS will replace DME that was lost or damaged during Hurricane Irma for patients in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Puerto, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Under the waiver, the usual mandatory face-to-face, physician’s order, and medical necessity documentation are not required to obtain the replacement items. However, HME providers must include a narrative description on the claim explaining the reason why the equipment must be replaced. 

They must also maintain documentation indicating that the previous DME items was lost, destroyed, or irreparably damaged. And, the American Association for Homecare reported that providers must add a CR modifier to the claim, in addition to submitting the narrative.

Additional points outlined in CMS’s Hurricane Harvey guidelines (which apply to the expansion of the blanket waiver for the Hurricane Irma-affected areas):

  • The replacement item must be furnished by a Medicare-enrolled supplier.
  • If the beneficiary needs a piece of DME that falls under competitive bidding and they are in a competitive bidding area, they must use a contract supplier.
  • Providers with bid contracts may continue to subcontract with Medicare-enrolled providers without contracts per existing program regulations.
  • The deadline to provide notification regarding any subcontracting arrangement has been extended from 10 days to 30 days.

AAHomecare also stated that CMS had informed it that the rental cycle will start over for capped rental items and oxygen equipment that are replaced due to the hurricane. The association added that it would continue working with CMS to streamline procedures so that providers could more efficiently help patients in future emergencies.

More information is available from CMS at

About the Author

David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.


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