FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2009
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Acting Secretary Declares Public Health Emergency for North Dakota Storms
HHS Acting Secretary Charles E. Johnson today declared a public health emergency for North Dakota in response to severe storms and floods affecting the state. The action ensures beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program, known as CHIP, continue to receive benefits.
The public health emergency declaration follows President Obama’s declaration of a major disaster for North Dakota and is also retroactive to March 13, 2009.
The public health emergency is declared under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act and, under section 1135 of the Social Security Act, has been invoked to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP requirements. The state can submit waiver requests through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Regional Office.
Under the declaration, the section 1135 waiver provides the flexibility to maintain vital health care services, such as allowing Medicare health plan beneficiaries to go out of network during this emergency. CMS is working with the health insurance industry to ensure there are no barriers to this service for those enrolled in these plans.
The section 1135 waiver also provides the authority to temporarily relax certain operating procedures so health care services can be delivered, such as allowing critical access hospitals to take more than the statutorily mandated limit of 25 patients and not count the expected longer lengths of stay for evacuated patients against the 96-hour average.
HHS agencies continue to work with state agencies and regional networks to monitor the emergency with personnel and equipment ready to assist the state with both health and human service needs wherever needed.
The declaration is available at http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/phe.html. HHS flood preparedness information is also online at http://www.hhs.gov/disasters/emergency/naturaldisasters/flood/index.html and North Dakota Flood Preparedness Information can be found at http://www.nd.gov/des/get/flood-preparedness.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011