Providers ride out another storm

Sunday, September 7, 2008

WASHINGTON - Home medical equipment providers were once again at the ready as Hurricane Gustav approached the Gulf Coast last week.

HME providers in Alabama reported that among the thousands of evacuees from coastal areas were people who had left home without their medical equipment or supplies, according to AAHomecare reports.

One Alabama provider, Alacare Home Health & Hospice in Birmingham, received a request for oxygen, wheelchairs and nebulizers from the American Red Cross. Alacare staff delivered equipment to area shelters; provided oxygen therapy for evacuees from Louisiana; and arranged for a delivery of 10 hospital beds to a local assisted living facility.

In the wake of the storm, CMS issued a waiver of Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP requirements.

"Many of the agency's normal operating procedures will be temporarily relaxed so health care services will continue to be provided to the elderly, people with disabilities and vulnerable children as they leave the areas affected by the hurricane," stated CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems in an Aug. 31 press release.

CMS will also expand the definition of "home" to allow beneficiaries who are receiving home health services to receive those services in alternative sites, according to the release. CMS also stated it would work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to resolve issues with lost, stolen or abandoned DME.