CMS, FDA provide support in response to natural disasters

In response to the natural disasters that have inundated the U.S. in recent months, CMS and the FDA have provided additional support to the individuals and businesses dealing with the aftermath.


Administrator Seema Verma announced on October 19, 2017, support for California residents displaced and recovering from the October wildfires in response to the declaration of a public health emergency for the state by Acting HHS Secretary Eric D. Hargan. Such a declaration permits CMS to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements to provide necessary services. Specifically, the following steps have been taken by CMS:

·         A blanket skilled nursing facility waiver and assistance for hospitals and other health care facilities.

·         Special enrollment period for all Medicare beneficiaries so they may change their health or prescription drug plans immediately.

·         Assistance for dialysis patients displaced from their usual facility.

·         Hotline to assist Part B providers and suppliers in helping recovery efforts and receiving temporary Medicare billing privileges.

Similar assistance was provided in response in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (see Emergency preparedness in the wake of historic hurricanes, Health Law Daily, October 3, 2017).



The FDA, knowing that tobacco manufacturers and importers in some areas (including certain Caribbean Islands and counties in Florida, Texas, and California) have been affected by both the hurricanes and wildfires, is extending the compliance deadlines for ingredient listing and health document submission requirements by six months. The extension applies to areas for which a disaster area has been declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For non-small-scale manufacturers and importers in the specified areas, the deadline for ingredient listings is now May 8, 2018; for small-scale manufacturers, November 8, 2018. For small-scale manufacturers, the health documents are due May 8, 2018; the non-small-scale manufacturers and importers deadline remains the same—February 8, 2017.