The CMS on Tuesday approved Florida's 1135 Medicaid waiver request, waiving specific Medicaid requirements to accelerate access to critical services in the fight against COVID-19.
Following President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency, Florida became the first state to apply for a waiver. The state will be able to fast track provider's Medicaid enrollment, waive some preauthorization requirements, waive pre-admission screening for certain assessments for 30 days, provide care in alternative settings and temporarily delay Medicaid hearings and decisions.
"I have directed my team to expeditiously process these requests," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.
Section 1135 waivers allow HHS to set aside administrative requirements to increase access to medical services when the president declares a national emergency.
The agency expects more states to apply for the waivers as the coronavirus pandemic consumes the nation. The Medicaid disaster response tool kit provides states with information about how to apply for the waivers.
Many public health experts think that giving states more flexibility to expand Medicaid to more people and speeding up the application process would ensure that the most vulnerable people could access the care that they need and, potentially, slow the spread of the virus.
It could also cushion people against an economic blow stemming from the pandemic, which has led to event cancellations and the closure of schools, bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses that disproportionately employ low-income, part-time and hourly workers.
The Trump administration has taken several measures to reduce Medicaid eligibility and spending during the past few years, such as encouraging states to adopt Medicaid work requirements or increased cost-sharing for beneficiaries.
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