CMS to waive Medicare, Medicaid requirements in hurricane's wake

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Nursing home providers in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina will likely get a break from certain Medicare and Medicaid requirements so they can care for needy residents.

Medicare payments may also be available in advance and at an accelerated pace to providers upon request, according to officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week.

CMS, which has new waiver authority following the disaster in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, might dismiss the three-day prior stay requirement for beneficiaries to receive treatment from skilled nursing facilities.

The agency said it plans to work with other parts of the federal government to help staff and provide information on emergency medical shelters for evacuees and victims of the hurricane.

See the Q & A section of the CMS Web site (cms.gov) for information on federal payments, staffing needs for emergency shelters, and on general relief. Providers can also obtain information by contacting Colleen Carpenter in the Atlanta regional office at (404) 562-7242, or Paula Hammond in the Dallas regional office at (214) 767-8123.