Following the lead of President Trump's disaster declaration for Louisiana, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared a public health emergency in Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey. In addition, he has taken action that gives HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) beneficiaries and their health care providers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

“As Louisiana and Texas contend with the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, HHS is committed to doing all that we can to ensure that those affected by this storm receive the vital assistance and support they need,” said Secretary Price. “The people of Louisiana who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP for their healthcare needs can be confident that this declaration will allow their care to continue despite the toll this disaster has taken in their communities."

Many CMS beneficiaries have evacuated to neighboring communities where receiving hospitals and nursing homes may have no health care records, information on current health status or even verification of the person’s status as a Medicare beneficiary. Due to the emergency declaration and other actions taken by HHS, CMS is able to waive certain documentation requirements to help ensure facilities can deliver care.

In addition to increasing the flexibility in providing assistance for CMS beneficiaries, HHS has deployed approximately 550 personnel to affected areas to help state and local authorities respond to communities’ medical needs, and additional staff is on standby to assist.

Today’s declaration of a public health emergency for Louisiana follows a similar emergency declaration for Texas that Secretary Price signed on Saturday to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Secretary Price acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act.

These actions and flexibilities are effective retroactively to August 27, 2017.

Public health and safety information for Hurricane Harvey can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/harvey2017/Pages/default.aspx

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