CMS Also Eases DME Rules for Beneficiaries in Georgia

CMS says it will relax requirements for DME items lost or damaged due to Hurricane Michael.

After giving Medicare beneficiaries in Florida relief from Hurricane Michael, CMS has now expanded its temporary suspension for patients in Georgia whose DME items have suffered damage or have been due to the storm.

For HME patients and providers in the Peach State, CMS will temporarily suspend requirements for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or sustained damage to their DME, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane. This will help to make sure that beneficiaries can continue to access the needed medical equipment and supplies they rely on each day. Medicare beneficiaries can contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for help.

“Our thoughts are with all affected by this monstrous Hurricane,” Administrator Seema Verma said in a public statement. “CMS has taken the measures necessary to help support everyone that could be impacted. The waivers that will be in effect in Georgia will give healthcare providers, facilities, and suppliers the flexibility to provide continued access to care throughout this storm. We will continue to monitor the hurricane and work closely with officials in Georgia.”

CMS has now temporarily waived and modified several requirements to ensure access to various services and resources:

  • Temporarily waived or modified certain Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP requirements for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. More info can be found at www.cms.gov/emergency.
  • 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 go.cms.gov/2NFTFup and go.cms.gov/2MtSUQH.
  • Has created a Disaster Response Toolkit, with an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities, available at bit.ly/2CSFspL.
  • Is helping dialysis patients obtain access to critical, life-saving services. CMS has activated the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program, which is working with IPRO End Stage Renal Dialysis Network of the South Atlantic (NW 6), to assess the status of dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas. CMS says patients have been educated to have an emergency supply kit on hand including important personal, medical, and insurance information. The toll-free hotline for NW 6 is (800) 524-7139 and the KCER hotline is (866) 901-3773.
  • 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.

The guidelines went into effect on Oct. 13, but are retroactive starting Oct. 9. Additional instructions can be found at bit.ly/2CbO9K8.

Providers might recall HHS and CMS undertook similar measures a month ago in the wake of Hurricane Florence, as well as last year after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

 

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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