July 12, 2019
HHS Secretary Azar Declares Public Health Emergency in Louisiana Due to Tropical Storm Barry
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today declared a public health emergency in Louisiana to prepare for potential impacts of Tropical Storm Barry. The declaration follows President Trump’s emergency declaration for the state and gives Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.
“We are fully prepared to support communities that need our help due to the storm,” Secretary Azar said. “We are working closely with state health and emergency management officials to anticipate the communities’ healthcare needs and be ready to meet them.”
Secretary Azar acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act in declaring the public health emergency in Louisiana and authorizing flexibilities to support CMS beneficiaries. These actions and flexibilities are retroactive to July 10, 2019.
In addition to making this declaration, HHS worked with FEMA to pre-position approximately 100 medical and public health personnel from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Disaster Medical System and across the department, along with caches of medical equipment for HHS medical teams, so that they are readily available immediately after the storm.
The HHS Secretary’s Operation Center, managed by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), remains activated 24/7 to coordinate federal public health and medical support, bringing to bear the federal government’s full range of health-related assets and resources.
ASPR and CMS collaborated to provide information to state health officials in Louisiana on the number of Medicare beneficiaries who are electrically dependent or rely on dialysis or on special medical equipment at home. This information assists health and emergency management agencies in saving lives, particularly after extended power outages. In addition, ASPR and CMS are working with their partners to identify dialysis centers in the storm’s path and are helping them develop plans to pre-dialyze patients and address patients’ needs after the storm.
To learn more about how to prepare, and for health safety information, visit the HHS emergency website.