CMS Waives Certain Medicare Screening Requirements for Hurricane Harvey Relief

Medicare reimbursement expanded to healthcare providers caring for patients affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced they will waive certain Medicare requirements for healthcare providers and suppliers in an effort to speed assistance with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana.

The CMS has also created a hotline for providers in these states to enroll in federal programs and receive temporary billing for Medicare, according to a press release.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to work with health care providers to put our patients and people with Medicare benefits first,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “While we have heard from providers in these states that are willing and able to help, we know that by temporarily relaxing these and other Medicare provider and supplier enrollment requirements, we can make the services of skilled professionals more readily available to those in need.”

Under the waiver, CMS officials created a toll-free hotline for non-certified Medicare Part B providers and suppliers in the affected states. Non-certified providers will be able to receive provisional temporary billing privileges for Medicare to ensure compensation to help hurricane victims, according to the release.

Medicare will be waiving the application fee, finger print-based criminal background checks, site visits, and in-state licensure, according to the CMS.

The temporary billing privileges will be able to be used on the same day beginning September 11, 2017.

The CMS is also allowing providers to temporarily apply for Medicare reimbursement with their national provider identifier, social security number, a business employer identification number, taxpayer identification numbers, and a valid in-state or out-of-state license, according to the release.

Due to the widespread devastation, the CMS has also chosen to lift the temporary enrollment moratorium in Texas on Part B non-emergency ambulance suppliers, in an effort to expedite aid.

Practice location reporting requirements will also be lifted temporarily and those who do not notify the CMS of their practice location will not face administrative action. This waiver will remain in effect until the disaster designation is lifted, according to the release.

“We are working to ensure that doctors, facilities, suppliers and their teams are in place to help those impacted by damage from Hurricane Harvey,” Verma said.

Previously, the CMS announced novel guidance to support individuals who lost their medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, or other medical supplies due to Hurricane Harvey.

Under the waiver, the CMS suspended the face-to-face requirement, a new physician’s order, and new medical necessity documentation to replace the equipment, according to a press release.

The CMS implemented these waivers in an effort to help ensure access to proper medical care for Medicare beneficiaries in Texas and Louisiana who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.