September 17, 2017
HHS activates program to reimburse hospitals caring for patients evacuated following Hurricane Irma
As part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide efforts to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) activated a program to help hospitals and medical facilities providing care to people affected by Irma. This is the first time HHS has activated the program in response to a natural disaster since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010.
The program, called the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Definitive Care Reimbursement Program, reimburses medical facilities and hospitals for the definitive medical care costs of patients medically evacuated following disasters. These patients are directed to NDMS-designated hospitals and medical facilities and tracked through Federal Coordinating Centers managed by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.
“Hurricane Irma significantly affected access to medical care in the areas hardest hit by the storm, and patients who need care in these impacted areas must rely on facilities in areas spared by the storm,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “We are activating NDMS’ Definitive Care Reimbursement Program to ensure that the medical facilities and hospitals accepting these patients will be reimbursed for the vital care they are providing.”
The program, overseen by HHS ASPR, covers medical care provided to people who are injured or became ill as a result of natural disasters if medical care is no longer available in their local area after the disaster. Covered services include medically necessary hospital care, which can extend beyond the typical 30-day stay, as well as home care, rehabilitation, physical therapy and primary care.
Approximately 85 patients will be covered under the NDMS definitive care program in eligible medical facilities in Puerto Rico. These patients were medically evacuated to Puerto Rico from the U.S. Virgin Islands utilizing resources available through the U.S. Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s national ambulance contract.
Facilities receive reimbursement up to 110 percent of the Medicare rate for participating in the program or a comparable rate if the Medicare rate is unavailable. The facilities must make available up to 25 beds for NDMS patients. More than 1,900 hospitals across the country participate in NDMS’ Definitive Care Reimbursement Program.
In addition to the definitive care program, NDMS provides medical professional who can assist state and local medical professionals in impacted areas. Approximately 5,000 medical, public health, and emergency management professionals comprise the NDMS and are organized into more than 70 response teams. They hail from communities nationwide and serve as intermittent federal government employees in a coordinated federal response.
HHS remains committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the southeast impacted by Hurricane Irma. Health tips for clean up after the hurricane are available at www.phe.gov/irma.
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ASPR leads the nation in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters. The HHS division focuses on preparedness planning and response; building federal emergency medical operational capabilities; countermeasures research, advance development, and procurement; and grants to strengthen the capabilities of hospitals and health care systems in public health emergencies and medical disasters.