Texas Health Plans & Medical Services Groups Provide Relief to Impacted Texans
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Hurricane Resource Guide: TX Health Plans & Medical Services Groups Provide Relief to Impacted Texans
AUSTIN—The Texas Association of Health Plans (TAHP), the statewide trade association representing commercial and public health plans operating in Texas, today shared a growing list of its members’ efforts to assist Texans who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. TAHP members serve more than 17 million people in Texas, and more than 50,000 of their employees call Texas home. Health plans and related entities in Texas are responding to the storm, both in the form of donations to relief efforts and also in offering 24-hour hotlines, free consultations with telemedicine physicians, assistance with emergency prescription refills and medical equipment, and more.
Additionally, health plans in the region devastated by Hurricane Harvey have implemented policy changes to ensure the continuation of health benefits for persons who have been forced to evacuate their homes to support uninterrupted access to needed medical care. As part of this effort, health plans are addressing the bulletins recently issued by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). This includes: (1) authorizing payment for necessary medical equipment, supplies, and services, regardless of the date on which the service, equipment, or supplies were most recently provided; (2) waiving penalties and restrictions so members affected by the disaster can get health and dental services out-of-network, and extending any claim-filing deadlines as needed; and (3) authorizing payment for up to a 90-day supply of covered prescriptions. In some cases, our members are going beyond TDI’s requests. While closely monitoring the situation on the ground, health plans are working with hospital systems, pharmacies, and first responders to provide their community, their enrollees, and their employees with support, guidance, and access to care.
Medicaid Update: Texas Medicaid health plans are working closely with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on the commission’s efforts to waive portions of the Medicaid program, to ensure Medicaid and CHIP clients do not encounter a break in services as a result of Hurricane Harvey. This includes eliminating CHIP co-pays for clients who reside in FEMA-declared disaster areas, allowing pharmacists to dispense prescriptions sooner, tracking and coordinating care for Medicaid clients who were evacuated, paying out-of-network providers, coordinating disaster-related provider inquiries and complaints for Medicaid clients, and extending enrollment for Medicaid and CHIP for 6 months for clients who reside in the FEMA-declared disaster areas.
For a growing list of individual health plan efforts, please see below and also on TAHP’s Twitter “Moments” page here. We will be updating the list as more information becomes available. TAHP encourages members of the media to share this helpful resource guide with their readers, viewers, and listeners.
TAHP Health Plan & Member Hurricane Relief Efforts
- FirstCare is working to assist its members in the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. FirstCare has set up a webpage for members, including resources and links to assist them at this time: www.FirstCare.com/Harvey. FirstCare is helping impacted members to access medical equipment, supplies, and prescription refills, as well as assisting members in contacting state agencies, such as Medicaid, to ensure there is no disruption in their services.
- Texas Children's Health Plan launched a call campaign to reach out to all members with a reminder of their phone numbers and a request to contact the health plan if they can be of assistance. TCHP members can see any doctor who accepts Medicaid/CHIP in or out of our service area. They can also pick up prescription refills even if it is too soon. Pharmacy and provider copays are being waived for members in FEMA declared disaster counties. TCHP has posted the provider and pharmacy information to TexasChildrensHealthPlan.org and is regularly updating a list of providers and clinics that are open and seeing patients. The toll-free TCHP Nurse Helpline 1-800-686-3831 is always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any health-related questions.
- DentaQuest wired one million dollars to the Rebuild Texas Fund launched by The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. With this donation, DentaQuest joins other industry leaders who have answered Texas Governor Greg Abbotts’ call to raise private donations for the long-term recovery of communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.
- Magellan Health has offered to provide free confidential counseling services and other resources, such as referrals to local non-profit organizations, shelters and additional community-based support to assist Texans as they work to cope with the feelings of fear, sadness, anger and hopelessness related to these kinds of natural disasters.
- Teladoc is offering services to victims of Hurricane Harvey free of charge. If you are a resident of the evacuation zones in Texas or Louisiana, you can request a call from a Teladoc doctor free of charge. Call (855)-220-4585.
- Cigna is offering a free telephone help line is available around the clock, 24/7, to all residents affected by the hurricane for support through October 15, 2017, regardless of whether you are a client or not. Individuals can speak to a qualified clinician about potentially difficult situations such as how to cope with loss, anxiety, stress or other issues resulting from the hurricane.
- Driscoll Health Plan has assembled the following Hurricane Harvey Resource Guide for its members: DHP Resource Guide. Members should call their hotline for any assistance with prescriptions, providers, equipment and more: 1-877-324-7543. Driscoll has also posted a list of providers who are open in their service area and currently taking patients here.
- Anthem is providing relaxed guidelines for members affected by the hurricane who need to refill their prescriptions in Texas from August 26, 2017 through September 26, 2017.
- Humana has put guidelines in place in order to ensure Medicare Advantage members in the affected areas can get the medical care they need. They will be covering Medicare Parts A and B services and supplemental Part C plan benefits at non-network hospitals and other medical facilities; waiving all requirements for primary care physician (PCP) referrals; providing enrollees with the same cost-sharing they would get at an in-network facility; and removing prescription drug limitations.
- UnitedHealthcare, Optum, and UnitedHealth Group announced a donation of $1 million to support Texas communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. The company is working with key officials and stakeholders in Texas to determine how the funds can most effectively support relief efforts. Furthermore, the company is pledging a 2:1 match for employee donations toward disaster-relief efforts, as well as providing incentives and support to those who volunteer.
- Aetna is helping victims obtain early prescription refills and find care and behavioral health support, among other services. Aetna is also extending claim and appeal filing times, and has opened its Resources for Living services (1-888-AETNA-EAP) to the community regardless of whether they are Aetna members or not. This hotline can provide help coping with the emotional impact of the storm and with finding resources such as available shelters, government resources and referrals.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is coordinating with the American Red Cross to assist victims, with roughly 1.5 million commercial members in the impacted areas and 5,000 Medicaid members. BCBSTX is conducting an outbound call campaign to offer assistance to all their Medicaid members and making efforts to help all of their impacted members find a doctor, hospital or dialysis center, refill prescriptions medications and coordinate care. BCBSTX’s natural disaster hotlines can be found here. President Dan McCoy has released a video outlining relief efforts.
- WellCare Health Plan is offering a toll-free help line for all impacted by Hurricane Harvey to help connect them with needed social services. Call 1-866-775-2192 8 am - 7 pm CDT, Mon - Fri. WellCare also transformed their Houston office to support their employees and their families who were impacted by the storm.
- Amerigroup Texas has various hotlines available to its impacted members, including a 24-hour nurse hotline, which is free and open to all Texans: 1-866-417-7107. AmericaGroup Texas has also partnered with the Houston Food Bank to bring a mobile health clinic and free on-site access to care to residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
- CHRISTUS Health has sent nurses and volunteers to Texas to assist in relief efforts, including three nurses that left for Beaumont in a Blackhawk Helicopter on Wed., Aug 30. CHRISTUS has also sent supplies from their Lake Charles, La., location, including food, medicine and blood.
- Hearst (MCG Health’s parent company) is matching employee contributions to the Red Cross of Greater Houston to help with relief efforts.
- Children’s Medical Center Health Plan’s partner hospital Children’s Health has Child Life Specialists, Music Therapists, nurses, emergency management staff and medical providers on site at the Dallas Convention Center mega-shelter to stand by the side of the children and families who were displaced by the storm. Children’s Health also partnered with Cook Children’s to transport NICU babies from the path of the hurricane.
- Superior HealthPlan is assisting its members who were impacted by the storm with: getting an emergency prescription refill; replacing necessary medical equipment, services or supplies; speaking with a registered nurse, 24 hours a day; finding a doctor in your area; and getting help dealing with stress or depression.
- Molina has produced a resource guide for its impacted members, including all relevant phone numbers for assistance with refilling prescriptions, finding providers, acquiring medical equipment and more. Molina has also shared its 24-hour nurse hotline: 1-888-275-8750 (English); 1-866-648-3537 (Spanish).