Health Plans Respond To Hurricanes Harvey And Irma

by Rashi Venkataraman

August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey continues to impact Texas and Louisiana, and emergency conditions have been declared in the region. Already, more than a dozen lives have been lost. With more rain on the way, federal officials predict that as many as 450,000 people will need disaster assistance in the weeks to come.

For those who are affected by this disaster, as well as Hurricane Irma in Florida, health plans send their support and wishes for safety and swift recovery. Health plans serve 22.8 million people in Texas and Florida, and nearly 60,000 of their employees call Texas and Florida home.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster proclamation for several counties due to flooding (in addition to a Presidential Disaster Declaration from FEMA). The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) issued several bulletins, and health plans will:

  • authorize payment for necessary medical equipment, supplies, and services, regardless of the date on which the service, equipment, or supplies were most recently provided (Bulletin #B-0010-17);
  • waive penalties and restrictions so members affected by the disaster can get health and dental services out-of-network, and extend any claim-filing deadlines as needed (Bulletin #B-0012-17);
  • authorize payment for up to a 90-day supply of covered prescriptions (Bulletin #B-0014-17).

Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Charles Smith submitted waiver requests to the federal government to ensure that Texas Medicaid recipients continue to receive services. Similarly, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has issued guidance to all providers (both fee-for-service and managed care) regarding provision of services during Hurricane Irma.

AHIP members have also taken it upon themselves to execute additional aid and assistance programs to further support those impacted by these record-setting storms. Please visit the following plan pages for more details about specific plans:

Health plans are coming together with hospital systems, pharmacies, and first responders to ensure people can get the care and medications they need. They continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground and provide their community, their members, and their employees with support, guidance, and immediate access to care. Those who are affected by Harvey can contact their health plan for more information. Contact information for your health plan can be found on your member card or on your health plan’s website.

Rashi Venkataraman is Executive Director for Prevention & Population Health with AHIP’s Clinical Affairs Team.