Hurricane Ida Waiver and Modification Updates

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our customers, therapy team members, residents and others who are being impacted by Hurricane Ida.

In addition, please continue reading below for updates from Xavier Becerra, Secretary of HHS regarding waiver and modifications for Louisiana and Mississippi.

On Monday, August 30th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a release titled, Waiver or Modification of Requirements Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act.

Within this release, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of HHS, outlined the waiver and modification of the Social Security Act for Louisiana and Mississippi to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of individuals enrolled in the Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP programs in light of Hurricane Ida. Secretary Becerra said. “These declarations and waivers help ensure that some of the most vulnerable residents of Louisiana and Mississippi – beneficiaries of Medicare and Medicaid –have continuous access to the care they need in the aftermath of this storm. We stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support to help impacted communities respond and recover.”

Section 1 included information regarding but not limited to the waiver or modification of:

  • Certain conditions of participation, certification requirements, program participation or similar requirements for individual health care providers or types of health care providers, including as applicable, a hospital or other provider of services, a physician or other health care practitioner or professional, a health care facility, or a supplier of health care items or services, and pre-approval requirements.
  • Requirements that physicians or other health care professionals hold licenses in the State in which they provide services, if they have an equivalent license from another State.
  • Sanctions under section 1867 of the Act (the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA) for the direction or relocation of an individual to another location to receive medical screening pursuant to an appropriate state emergency preparedness plan or for the transfer of an individual who has not been stabilized if the transfer is necessitated by the circumstances of the declared Federal public health emergency for Hurricane Ida.
  • Sanctions under section 1877(g) (relating to limitations on physician referral) under such conditions and in such circumstances as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services determines appropriate.
  • Limitations on payments under section 1851(i) of the Act for health care items and services furnished to individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan by health care professionals or facilities not included in the plan’s network.

Section 2 provides details related to waiver of sanctions and penalties arising from non-compliance with provisions of the HIPAA privacy regulations:

  • (a) the requirements to obtain a patient’s agreement to speak with family members or friends or to honor a patient’s request to opt out of the facility directory (as set forth in 45 C.F.R. § 164.510);
  • (b) the requirement to distribute a notice of privacy practices (as set forth in 45 C.F.R. § 164.520); and
  • (c) the patient’s right to request privacy restrictions or confidential communications (as set forth in 45 C.F.R. § 164.522); but in each case, only with respect to hospitals in the designated geographic area that have hospital disaster protocols in operation during the time the waiver is in effect

Section 3 describes the modification of deadlines and timetables and for the performance of required activities.

In declaring the public health emergency and authorizing flexibilities for CMS beneficiaries, Secretary Becerra acted within his authority under the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act. These waivers and modifications will become effective at 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on August 31, 2021, but will have retroactive effect to August 26, 2021, in the State of Louisiana, and to August 28, 2021, in the State of Mississippi.