CMS Relaxes Rules for HME Patients Hit by Hurricane Florence

As HHS Secretary Azar declares the public health emergency, CMS says it will ease requirements for DME items lost or damaged due to the storm.

As Hurricane Florence hurtles toward the Carolina coast, CMS has temporarily suspended certain requirements for Medicare beneficiaries whose DME items have suffered damage from the hurricane.

Providers might recall similar suspensions roughly a year ago, in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

The relaxation of requirements was made effective via two waivers, the first for North and South Carolina, which went into effect 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today, Sept. 13, and the second for Virginia, which goes into effect 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Sept. 14.

The full details for CMS’s Waiver/Modification of Requirements can be found at for the Carolinas and for Virginia.

Medicare beneficiaries who have experienced damage or loss should contact 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) for assistance.

Additionally, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared public health emergencies for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

“As the President has emphasized, we are fully prepared to support communities that need our help because of the storm,” Azar said. “We are working closely with state health and emergency management officials to anticipate communities’ needs and be ready to meet them.”

As part of the PHE announcement, CMS also:

  • Temporarily waived or modified certain Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP requirements for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. More info can be found at
  • Made available special enrollment periods for all Medicare beneficiaries and certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. More information can be found at and
  • Developed an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities available at
  • Is helping dialysis patients obtain access to critical, life-saving services. A toll-free hotline is available at 800-524-7139 or 866-901-3773 and the Kidney Community Emergency Response has information at  
  • Has suspended current survey and enforcement activities for healthcare facilities, but will continue to investigate allegations of immediate threat to patient health and safety.
  • Is requiring Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Plan sponsors to maintain access to covered benefits for beneficiaries in affected areas by allowing Part A/B and supplemental Part C plan benefits to be furnished at specified non-contracted facilities and waiving, in full, requirements for gatekeeper referrals where applicable.







About the Author

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


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