Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Relief Effort: Information for Health Care Providers

Garlo Ward, a Texas health care law firm, has posted information about how Texas is handling some of the initial health care legal questions that have come up as a result of the number of individuals leaving Louisiana due to Katrina. Many of those individauls displaced by the hurricane are in need of community based health care related services, such as intermediate care facilities, home and community care, etc.

The post includes a copy of any email issued by the Private Providers Association of Texas (PPAT), the association representing for-profit and non-profit health care providers who provide community based services to those with mental retardation and other developmental disability.

Over the last week I have been impressed by the prompt response of Texas. However, Texas appears to be nearing capacity after having accepted over 220,000 hurricane victims.

Tonight's news in West Virginia reported the first arrival of displaced Louisiana residents via the West Virginia's 130th Airlift Wing. Other states are sure to follow and receive residents from Louisiana, many who will need continuing health care services. Many providers, associations, patients, etc. will have transfer of service and reimbursement related questions over the coming days and weeks.

Over the last few days I have had a number of conversations about how the transfer of hospital, nursing home, intermediate care and other types of health services will be handled from a reimbursement standard. CMS and Medicare have a Hurricane Katrina Information page, including a Q&A section that should be a starting point for information. It appears that CMS has issued a general waiver under Section 1135 of the SSA allowing HHS to waive Medicare, Medicaid and State CHIP requirements in time of national crisis. Following is a summary from the CMS information page:

Signed Waiver Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act 9/1/2005
Section 1135 of the Social Security Act allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, or State Children's Health Insurance Program requirements in order to protect the public health and welfare in times of national crisis. On Wednesday August 31, 2005 Secretary Levitt notified the Congress that he was invoking this authority, as a consequence of Hurricane Katrina, in order to protect the health and welfare of the public in areas impacted by this crisis. CMS is taking action consistent with this authority to ensure that the people in these areas receive all necessary health care services.

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