Florida First State to Receive Federal Approval for 1135 Medicaid Waiver to Address COVID-19

March 2020 ~

As of March 16, Florida became the first state to submit a Section 1135 waiver and gain CMS approval for increased state flexibilities in response to COVID-19.

These increased flexibilities will enable the state to better meet state residents’ treatment needs by waiving prior authorization requirements and removing barriers to services, streamlining provider enrollment processes to ensure access to care, allowing care to be provided in alternative settings in the event a facility is evacuated to an unlicensed facility, suspending certain nursing home screening requirements to provide necessary administrative relief, and extending deadlines for appeals and state fair hearing requests.

The state waiver and modifications became effective as of 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on March 15, 2020, with a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma commented on the waiver approval, stating, “I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership in Medicaid and for taking full advantage of federal flexibilities. 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.”

“Florida is acutely focused on eliminating unnecessary barriers on our health care providers who are on the front lines serving our communities most impacted by COVID-19. President Trump recognizes this need and Administrator Seema Verma is providing Florida the critical flexibility for our state’s Medicaid program by waiving prior authorization requirements for essential health care services and expedited provider enrollment,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

For more information on how states can apply for Section 1135 waivers, see the through the Medicaid Disaster Response Tool Kit.

Source(s): Florida 1135 Flexibilities Approval; CMS Press Release; HealthLeaders Media;