Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra declared public health emergencies on Monday for Louisiana and Mississippi due to the effects for Hurricane Ida.
The declaration comes after President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for the two states. Together, the declarations give the HHS, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs during a disaster.
“Hurricane Ida made landfall as an extremely dangerous storm and is carving a path of destruction that poses a significant threat to health and safety,” 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.”
The public health emergency and flexibility would be retroactive to August 26, 2021 in Louisiana, and retroactive to August 28, 2021 in Mississippi.
The agency also staged an incident management team in Dallas to provide post-storm assistance. Teams from the U.S. Public Health Services Commissioned Corps and the National Disaster Medical System are poised to assist health authorities and healthcare facilities as needed.
Additionally, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and CMS are working with state health authorities to provide data that the health departments can use to assist Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, such as oxygen concentrators or wheelchairs, and home health services.