CMS Helps Ease Restrictions During Hurricane Harvey Recovery

Image of flooding due to hurricane harvey

There’s no doubt it will take quite some time to fully understand the scope of damage done in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So many individuals have felt the force of this disaster, and sometimes the most vulnerable victims are the ones who rely on healthcare for their most basic everyday needs.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services responded to this dilemma in a statement that explains some of the actions being taken to address serious concerns during the recovery process.


CMS is aiming to help Medicaid and Medicare recipients in Texas and Louisiana by working to allow certain flexibilities for providers offering care to patients that have been impacted by the hurricane. The full Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hurricane Harvey Recovery article can be found on their blog.

In regards to specific areas of concern, CMS will grant assistance in the enrollment process for Medicaid, as well as relief efforts to individuals and facilities with respect to Medicare. Provided below are some examples of Medicare flexibilities that have been established during this time:

  • Delay or suspend onsite annual re-certification and revisit surveys for certified providers.
  • Delay or suspend certain enforcement actions.
  • Allow additional time for providers to submit Plans of Corrections.
  • Allow healthcare providers to exceed their certified bed capacity by 10 percent (additional increases over the 10 percent will be processed on a case by case basis to assure safety).
  • Allow clinical labs to set up Temporary Testing Sites and perform waived testing following the manufacturer’s instructions at the temporary site.

CMS is making a significant effort to help all parties understand these changes by offering a variety of ways to get in touch, whether it be social media, email, or emergency specific web pages. They have also provided quite a few resources on their blog to address Hurricane Harvey related questions from HHS and other agencies.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the lessons learned from the tragedy and miscommunication that occurred forced healthcare systems to evaluate their disaster recovery plans, and even to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up infrastructure. Take a look at how Houston hospitals have operated during Hurricane Harvey.

This hurricane season has taken a heavy toll on the United States and given new developing storms expected to hit the east coast very soon, more preparation and effective response systems will be crucial to public health. Our thoughts are with all the people impacted by this horrible disaster, and for the ones bracing for storms at this moment. It goes to show that when bad things happen, good people are quick to respond to help; this is the hope and trust that we put in brave healthcare professionals and volunteers across this great nation.

Have hurricanes or natural disasters made an impact on you or your facility?

How is CMS handling these situations? We would love to hear your thoughts below.


Written by Michael Rosen, ESQ

ProviderTrust Co-Founder,

Michael brings over 20 years of experience founding and leading risk mitigation businesses, receiving numerous accolades such as: Inc Magazine’s Inc 500 Award and Nashville Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.

 Connect with Michael on Linkedin 

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