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Visiting Houston, Medicare Chief Says Key Post-Harvey Priority Is ‘Safety Of Health Care Facilities’

Seema Verma also highlights a waiver program for Medicare and Medicaid recipients that aims to maximize flexibility and coverage.


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Al Ortiz
Houston resident Zachary Gay (left) speaks with Seema Verma (right), Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as she toured a facility where he gets his dialysis treatment near the Texas Medical Center.

Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), visited Houston Monday to assess health care access following Hurricane Harvey.

Verma said her department’s priorities for the weeks and months of the post-Harvey recovery process include guaranteeing that facilities providing health care through Medicare and Medicaid are in good condition.

"Over the long term, we’re really going to be focused on safety of the health care facilities,” Verma said. “We are going to be doing surveys and certifications, kind of working with the hospitals and the providers, to make sure that the facilities that our Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are going to are safe."

Because the post-Harvey recovery will be lengthy, Verma highlighted that CMS is providing waivers to beneficiaries of both programs.

In the case of Medicare recipients, the waivers give them more flexibility about the hospitals and clinics they can go to, while for Medicaid beneficiaries, they can, for example, increase the period of time they are eligible to be covered by the program.

The federal government says there are four million Texans enrolled in Medicaid and 3.8 million enrolled in Medicare.

Verma visited and toured a dialysis facility located near the Texas Medical Center and her schedule also included a visit to a nursing home.

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