September 8, 2017
HHS Secretary Price declares public health emergencies in Georgia and South Carolina due to Hurricane Irma
Following President Trump’s emergency declarations for Georgia and South Carolina, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared public health emergencies in Georgia and South Carolina as Hurricane Irma tracks toward the southeastern states. The declarations allow HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take action that gives beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.
“Hurricane Irma has already begun to carve a path of destruction and continues to pose a significant threat to public health and safety as it makes its way along the southeastern United States,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Through these public health emergency declarations for Georgia and South Carolina, we are helping ensure that people in those states with Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can maintain access to care. HHS medical teams are prepared to support states and U.S. territories respond to Hurricane Irma.”
Secretary Price declared public health emergencies for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday and for Florida on Thursday related to Hurricane Irma. The Secretary spoke this week with state and territory governors in the path of the hurricane to update them on all HHS resources available to help them keep their residents healthy.
In addition to increasing the flexibilities in how CMS helps beneficiaries in the path of Hurricane Irma, HHS has deployed more than 230 personnel to support state and local authorities in affected areas plan and respond to local communities’ medical needs. Additional HHS staff is on standby to assist in the response.
The declarations of public health emergencies due to Hurricane Irma follow 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 Sept. 7, 2017, for Georgia and Sept. 6, 2017, for South Carolina.
Public health and safety information for Hurricane Irma can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/irma2017/Pages/default.aspx