Washington state receive second Medicaid waiver for coronavirus

The state of Washington is the second state to receive an approved Section 1135 Medicaid waiver from CMS to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver opens up more flexibilities for the state when it comes to Medicaid, such as removing some prior authorization barriers to provide services faster.

Washington is one of the hardest hit states by the virus, with more than 1,228 cases as of March 20, according to tracking website Statista. Florida was the first state to receive approval for its waiver. At the same time, CMS expanded telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, allowing more use of telehealth to diagnose and recommend services to those who may be impacted by COVID-19.

Washington has also enacted a number of other policies to deal with the epidemic, including Governor Jay Inslee recommending seniors shelter in place, halting elective surgeries and dental services and asking President Trump to dispatch naval ships with medical services capabilities to the state.

“I recognize that Governor Inslee and his team are working around the clock to respond to the escalating crisis in Washington State,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement about Washington’s approved 1135 waiver. “We are committed to stripping away any red tape that gets in the way of states or providers effectively managing this public health emergency.”