Following the lead of President Trump’s emergency declaration for Florida, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared a public health emergency in the state as Hurricane Irma continues its track toward the Florida peninsula. In addition, he has taken action that gives HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.
“Hurricane Irma has proven to be highly destructive and poses a significant threat to the health and safety of all Americans in its path,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “HHS has pre-positioned assets and personnel who can rapidly deploy to assist local responses in Florida to Hurricane Irma, and this declaration will help ensure that access to care is maintained for those with Medicare and Medicaid.”
Secretary Price declared public health emergencies for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday. He also spoke earlier this week with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló, and U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp to inform them about HHS’ efforts to prepare for the storm and assist their local responses if needed.
In addition to increasing the flexibility in providing services to, and assistance for, CMS beneficiaries, HHS has deployed more than 80 personnel to affected areas to help state and local authorities plan and respond to communities’ medical needs, and additional staff is on standby to assist.
Today’s declaration of a public health emergency for Florida follows similar public health emergency declarations for Texas and Louisiana that Secretary Price signed 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 September 4, 2017.
Public health and safety information for Hurricane Irma can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/irma2017/Pages/default.aspx