“On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation a national emergency. This bold action enables the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to waive certain requirements in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP under Section 1135 authority. This includes the ability to grant state and territorial Medicaid agencies a wider range of flexibilities, and states may now submit Section 1135 waiver requests for CMS approval that will remove administrative burdens and expand access to needed services.
Shortly after the President’s declaration, Florida became the first state to submit a Section 1135 waiver request in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
The state’s approval letter can be found here, and includes flexibilities that enable the state to waive prior authorization requirements to remove barriers to needed services, streamline provider enrollment processes to ensure access to care for beneficiaries, allow care to be provided in alternative settings in the event a facility is evacuated to an unlicensed facility, suspend certain nursing home screening requirements to provide necessary administrative relief, and extend deadlines for appeals and state fair hearing requests. These flexibilities will enable the state to focus its resources on combatting this outbreak and provide the best possible care to Medicaid beneficiaries in their state.
While Florida is the first state to apply for this waiver authority, CMS expects more states will also submit similar requests. Additional Section 1135 approval letters will be posted here as they are issued.
This action, and earlier CMS actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here. For information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.”