HHS Offers Support, Flexibility for States Affected by Tornados

Tools will help ensure residents affected by storms maintain access to health care

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- In the wake of recent significant loss of life and property suffered by several states due to last week’s horrific tornados and other storms, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today offered those states several options to speed Medicaid eligibility for those who may desperately need health services but have no means to pay for it.

In a letter to Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee, Secretary Sebelius outlines ways states can immediately expand access to health care by providing temporary increases in Medicaid income eligibility limits and removing resource tests. States can also allow residents who may have lost documents in the storm to certify their income and residency, and can delay the process of redetermining whether an individual remains eligible for Medicaid. The Secretary urged states to consult with CMS central and regional offices to determine how best to meet their needs within available legal authority. The Secretary provided a commitment that the department would expedite whatever federal approvals that states may need for state plan amendments or waivers, and that such authorities could be retroactive as early as the beginning of the disaster period. Already, HHS is working closely with Alabama on a waiver to help residents in that hard-hit state access the health care they need.

HHS has a strong history of using the Medicaid program to help states during times of crisis and through the recovery process. Iowa received a fast-track waiver to suspend eligibility redeterminations and relax documentation requirements after 2008 floods across five counties created need for emergency medical services. After the September 11, attacks, CMS quickly granted New York authority to create Disaster Relief Medicaid after the state’s Medicaid computer systems were heavily damaged. The temporary program allowed the state to expand eligibility and expedite application processing.

The letter can be viewed at www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/05/letter0506.html.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.



CONTACT:

HHS Press Office
202-690-6343
or
CMS Press Office
202-690-6145

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Alabama  District of Columbia  Kentucky  Mississippi  Tennessee

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Public Policy/Government  Public Policy  State/Local  White House/Federal Government  Professional Services  Insurance  General Health  Managed Care

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