Florida residents get Medicaid flexibility for coronavirus

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The federal government has approved Florida’s request to waive some long-standing Medicaid rules and regulations as the state prepares to treat poor, elderly and disabled residents who become infected with the novel coronavirus.

Florida is the first state to take advantage of greater flexibility the federal government said would be available following President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. That declaration enabled the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to begin offering what are known as Section 1135 Medicaid waivers.

“I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership in Medicaid and for taking full advantage of federal flexibilities,” Seema Verma, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a prepared statement. “CMS is committed to removing all unnecessary administrative and bureaucratic barriers that may hinder an effective response to this public health emergency, and I have directed my team to expeditiously process these requests.”

The federal government on Monday gave Florida authority to use out-of-state providers and hospitals to treat Medicaid patients and qualify for reimbursement. The providers and hospitals must either be Medicare providers or part of another state’s Medicaid network of providers to be eligible for reimbursement from Florida’s Medicaid program.

The authority is good for six months and retroactively applies to care provided beginning March 1.

The federal government, in part, also agreed to waive for 30 days pre-admission screening requirements for nursing-home placement or placement in institutions for people with developmental disabilities.