The federal government has approved Washington state for a special health-care status that could help officials and doctors here respond to the novel coronavirus crisis.
The status under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act — by allowing the state to waive various regulations — should give health-care providers more flexibility to use telemedicine; create new treatment facilities; partner with community organizations; quickly enroll more people in Medicaid; and more.
It should help officials relieve pressure on Washington’s health-care system by moving more hospitalized seniors on to Medicaid and then into nursing homes. The status also should allow hospitals to free up space by screening and triaging patients at off-site locations.
The state requested the status last weekend, after President Donald Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency. Section 1135 can only be used during a national emergency, and Washington officials had been waiting more than a week for Trump to take action.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved Washington’s request Thursday, a news release said.
“I recognize that Governor Inslee and his team are working around the clock to respond to the escalating crisis in Washington State,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “We are committed to stripping away any red tape that gets in the way of states or providers effectively managing this public health emergency.”
Ten of the 12 members of Washington’s congressional delegation wrote in support of the state’s 1135 request earlier this week. Washington is only the second state to receive 1135 approval; Florida’s request was approved Monday.