Medicaid

Louisiana is one of 13 states that have received Medicaid waiver requests from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that are designed to speed up responses to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Seema Verma, CMS administrator, said the waivers were approved within days of the states submitting them.

The waivers are effective March 1, 2020, and will end upon termination of the public health emergency, including any extensions.

The medicare.gov website explains that Medicaid is a federal-state public health insurance program for people with low income or with disabilities. Each state has its own guidelines and rules.

The agency in its news release said the waivers provide relief on a number of fronts. These include prior authorization and provider enrollment requirements, suspending certain nursing home pre-admission reviews and facilitating reimbursement to providers for care delivered in alternative setting because of facility evacuations.

Verma said the waivers support President Trump’s commitment to operating a COVID-19 response that is locally executed, state managed and federally supported. She said the agency has been able to swiftly remove barriers and cut red tape for “our state partners.”

“These waivers give a broad range of states the regulatory relief and support they need to more quickly and effectively care for their most vulnerable citizens,” Verma said.

The agency said the waivers available under federal law affect five areas. They temporarily suspend prior authorization requirements, extend existing authorizations for services through the end of the public health emergency, modify certain timeline requirements for state fair hearings and appeals.

Also, relax provider enrollment requirements to allow states to more quickly enroll out-of-state or other new providers to expand access to care and to relax public notice and submission deadlines for certain COVID-19-focused Medicaid state plan amendments, enabling states to make changes faster and ensure they can be retroactive to the beginning of the emergency.

More information on what the White House Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 can be found at coronavirus.gov. Persons who are interested can find a complete and updated list of what CMS is doing at cms.gov.

Now that the waivers have been granted, the followup is in the hands of state agencies that have expanded their services during the pandemic. Some residents in this area have had their Medicaid coverage unexpectedly dropped or interrupted, and we hope these waivers will give them the essential health care coverage they need in these trying times.

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