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Investigate federal waivers to help your H1N1 response

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February 1, 2010

Those of you involved with emergency planning for H1N1 should review a series of waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), particularly given predictions that swine flu cases may bounce back over the winter.

The idea behind the waivers is to relax normal patient protections that, during an evolving emergency situation, “may impede the ability of healthcare facilities to fully implement disaster operations plans that enable appropriate care during emergencies,” according to the HHS Web site.

The waivers were initially authorized October 27, 2009, by HHS for some of the Social Security Act’s Section 1135 requirements. Hospitals experiencing an H1N1 patient surge can apply for waivers to get temporary relief from certain rules for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), Stark Law, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Hospital emergency planners can build these waivers into their flu response plans now, including at what point they will apply for them—which can be done via e-mail or phone.

Those of you involved with emergency planning for H1N1 should review a series of waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, particularly given predictions that swine flu cases may bounce back over the winter.



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