CMS grants 11 more Medicaid waivers to states dealing with coronavirus

Eleven more states are following the lead of Florida and Washington in applying for Section 1135 Medicaid waivers to be granted more flexibility in dealing with the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. The waivers open up more options to quickly respond to the pandemic, such as removing prior authorization barriers.

CMS recently announced it was expanding telehealth benefits for providers to better diagnose and treat patients who potentially have COVID-19. The agency also recently announced states could apply for further flexibilities. The waivers are effective March 1 through the termination of the public health emergency period, which was declared by President Trump March 13.

“CMS has been able to swiftly remove barriers and cut red tape for our state partners,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “These waivers give a broad range of states the regulatory relief and support they need to more quickly and effectively care for their most vulnerable citizens.”

The total number of states taking advantage of the waivers is 13, as of March 24.

The states with the newly approved Medicaid waivers include:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia

The waivers available under Section 1135 include a variety of options for states under a national emergency, including: temporarily suspending prior authorization requirements; extending existing authorizations for services through the public health emergency; modifying timelines for state hearing and appeals; relaxing provider enrollment requirements; and relaxing public notice and submission deadlines for certain Medicaid state plan amendments focused on COVID-19, according to CMS.