FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2009
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Acting Secretary Declares Public Health Emergency for Minnesota Storms
HHS Acting Secretary Charles E. Johnson today declared a public health emergency for Minnesota, to ensure beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program, known as CHIP, continue to receive benefits during the severe storms and floods affecting the state.
The public health emergency declaration follows President Barack Obama’s declaration of a major disaster for Minnesota March 26.
A public health emergency had been declared Wednesday for North Dakota, following a presidential declaration of a major disaster there, retroactive to March 13.
As was the case with North Dakota, the Minnesota public health emergency is being declared under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. The acting secretary also invoked section 1135 of the Social Security Act for the Minnesota emergency, waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP requirements. The state can submit waiver requests through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regional office.
The section 1135 waiver provides the flexibility to maintain vital health care services for beneficiaries, 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.
To further assist affected states with health and human service needs of residents affected by floods, HHS is deploying approximately 250 personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Disaster Medical System, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as two 250-bed federal medical stations, and caches of equipment, pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
The declaration is available at http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/phe2.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