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Feds loosen rules, allowing Floridians to get coronavirus treatment faster

Florida is the first to receive a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Capitol in Tallahassee, where state officials recently applied for and received a waiver that will streamline medical care for people who receive benefits from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs. The waiver was granted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Capitol in Tallahassee, where state officials recently applied for and received a waiver that will streamline medical care for people who receive benefits from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal programs. The waiver was granted in response to the coronavirus pandemic. [ Times (2012) ]
Published Mar. 17, 2020

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Florida is the first state to receive emergency Medicaid waivers related to the coronavirus national emergency, a move that eliminates red tape that can delay medical treatment.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is waiving certain requirements in federally funded health programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP. This allows state agencies a “wider range of flexibilities,” according to a news release from CMS.

Florida was the first state to submit a waiver in response to the coronavirus emergency, the release said.

The waiver allows the state to streamline enrollment for beneficiaries and allow medical treatments that usually would require approval from the program first. Also, care can be provided in alternate settings, such as if a licensed medical facility needs to be evacuated. Nursing home requirements can also be suspended to provide “necessary administrative relief,” and deadlines are extended for appeals processes and state fair hearing requests.

Seema Verma, the CMS administrator, thanked Gov. Ron DeSantis “for taking full advantage of federal flexibilities” and said she had directed her staff to process states’ waiver requests quickly.

The agency announced the availability of a series of waivers for states on March 13.

Florida is one of few states that chose not to expand Medicaid coverage under former Gov. Rick Scott. The state’s uninsured rate is higher than the national average with more than 2.7 million people.

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