RICHMOND— The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), in collaboration with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), has recently formed the VDEM Access and Functional Needs Advisory Committee after identifying problem areas for individuals with disabilities impacted by disasters.
Comprised of representatives from state and local emergency management agencies, as well as external stakeholders from state disability service agencies, the group established new policies for DMAS related to the replacement of Durable Medical Equipment (DME) that is lost, damaged or destroyed during a disaster. Previously, the Commonwealth did not have a specific process that required DME providers to replace vital equipment necessary to sustain mobility and health. Enrolled Medicaid members were required to complete a justification process to replace or repair their equipment even if it was damaged by a natural disaster.
DMAS and VDEM recognized this issue and worked to modify DMAS policy and updated the existing provider manual to enact the change. Under the new policy, effective June 2, 2017, individuals impacted by a Governor-declared disaster or emergency who need to replace DME now have a straightforward process to address their immediate needs. Medicaid enrollees may obtain replacements of their previously approved items from a provider of their choice who is enrolled in Medicaid or contracted with a Medicaid health plan.
Additionally, DMAS sought and gained approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow current enrollees impacted by disaster and near their renewal period of the Commonwealth’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (FAMIS) to have their coverage extended 90-days or less. This allows families in the impacted areas to concentrate on their immediate needs instead of paperwork during the disaster recovery process.
“This new policy helps ensure the Commonwealth can protect these individuals following a disaster and helps address the critical needs of those most vulnerable during disasters,” said Dawn Brantley, VDEM’s Sheltering Coordinator and Access and Functional Needs Advisory Committee Chair. “This is a great example of state agencies, working together to improve the outcomes for individuals with disabilities and low-income families with children following disaster events. This is also a great example of DMAS realizing a need and taking rapid action to keep Commonwealth residents safe and healthy following a disaster.”
To learn more about VDEM’s efforts to meet the needs of individuals with functional needs before, during, and after an emergency, contact Dawn Brantley at email@example.com.
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