News Releases

In new letter to Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services Administrator Seema Verma, a bipartisan group of Washington state lawmakers urged rapid consideration for state’s request for flexibility to respond to the coronavirus crisis

Governor Inslee requested 1115 waiver early this month that would allow for creation of COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund, support additional efforts to respond to virus 

Increased flexibility would enhance on-going efforts to address COVID-19 pandemic which has had devastating impacts across Washington state, affecting everyone from school children, to health care workers, to small business workers, owners and more

Lawmakers: “The flexibilities requested in this application are critical to meeting the demands of this emergency, protecting Washingtonians and limiting the spread of this disease” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Led by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, last week U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), as well as U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA, 9th), Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3rd), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA, 1st), Denny Heck (D-WA, 10th), Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th), and Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA, 8th) sent a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma urging her to grant Washington state’s request for a waiver under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act. This waiver would provide the state with needed flexibilities to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak that has drastically impacted Washington state.

“Washington state needs tools to respond fully and forcefully to COVID-19 in order to blunt its spread and to ensure that people who can be appropriately cared for outside of hospital settings do not have to occupy scarce beds,” the lawmakers wrote. “If approved, the State’s 1115 waiver seeks to establish, among other things, a COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund and includes measures to ensure all residents have access to necessary testing and treatment.”

The lawmakers continued: “We request that CMS conduct a rapid review of the Washington state 1115 waiver application. Washington state is moving rapidly to address the COVID-19 outbreak and the flexibilities requested in this application are critical to meeting the demands of this emergency, protecting Washingtonians and limiting the spread of this disease.”

As of March 29, 2020, there are 4,896 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state and at least 195 deaths from the disease, and experts expect both of these totals to significantly increase in the coming days and weeks. In order to respond as effectively as possible to the coronavirus crisis, Washington state requested the 1115 waiver, which would allow the state added flexibility to expand health care coverage eligibility above current levels and establish a COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund. This fund would help support Washington state’s efforts to stabilize providers and allow them to access needed equipment and COVID-19 testing and care, and to respond to surging health care demands. The fund could also help provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness, and expanded nutrition supports to vulnerable populations.

Read full letter below or HERE.

March 26, 2020

The Honorable Seema Verma

Administrator

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

7500 Security Boulevard

Baltimore, MD, 21244

Dear Administrator Verma,

We write to urge swift consideration of Washington state’s application for an emergency demonstration project under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act. As you know, Washington state continues to experience rapid spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As of March 25, 2020, there are 2,472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state and 125 deaths from the disease. Experts expect further significant increases in the number of cases in the coming days and weeks. On March 24, as part of the state’s comprehensive response to the outbreak, the Washington Health Care Authority submitted an 1115 waiver application to provide the state with needed flexibilities to respond to the outbreak. This is a multi-state agency request in supplement to Governor Inslee’s previous 1115/1135 request approved on March 19.

Washington state needs tools to respond fully and forcefully to COVID-19 in order to blunt its spread and to ensure that people who can be appropriately cared for outside of hospital settings do not have to occupy scarce beds. If approved, the State’s 1115 waiver seeks to establish, among other things, a COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund and includes measures to ensure all residents have access to necessary testing and treatment.

The COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund will help Washington state to stabilize providers as they rapidly implement new and expanded care delivery sites while simultaneously confronting unprecedented economic disruptions. The fund will allow providers to access needed equipment, broaden access to COVID-19 testing and care, and respond to surging healthcare demand. Further, the fund can be used to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness to open up critically needed beds and to offer expanded nutrition supports to vulnerable populations to protect them and enable success of social distancing efforts.

The application also requests flexibility to expand coverage eligibility above current levels. Access to coverage is essential to ensure that all residents seek out healthcare services for testing and treatment. Eligibility expansion will be used to help low-income residents get testing and treatment with no or low out of pocket costs.

We request that CMS conduct a rapid review of the Washington state 1115 waiver application. Washington state is moving rapidly to address the COVID-19 outbreak and the flexibilities requested in this application are critical to meeting the demands of this emergency, protecting Washingtonians and limiting the spread of this disease.

Sincerely, 

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