HHS Secretary Becerra declares public health emergency for Kentucky due to recent flooding
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra today declared a Public Health Emergency for the Commonwealth of Kentucky due to consequences of severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides. The declaration follows President Biden’s recent disaster declaration and gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiaries and their health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.
In declaring the public health emergency and authorizing flexibilities for CMS beneficiaries, Secretary Becerra acted within his authority under the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act. These actions and flexibilities are retroactive to July 26, 2022.
“We will do all we can to assist Kentucky in its response to the devastating and ongoing impact of recent storms,” said Secretary Becerra. “We are working closely with state and local health authorities and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support to help communities respond and recover.”
HHS regional emergency coordinators (RECs) – part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) – are working with Kentucky health authorities and emergency response officials to determine what, if any, additional HHS resources can be brought to bear in responding to the disaster.
Staff from HHS’ National Disaster Medical System and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are prepared to provide medical care and public health support if needed.
Public health authorities in Kentucky are using de-identified data available through the HHS emPOWER Program, a partnership between ASPR and CMS, to support emergency planning and response. The program provides valuable information on the number of Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electricity-dependent durable medical equipment to help anticipate, plan for, and respond to the needs of at-risk citizens in potentially impacted areas.
In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline is available to assist residents and responders in the impacted areas in coping with the stress caused by the results of the severe storms. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call or text 800-985-5990 toll free to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Additional information regarding Public Health Emergency declarations can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/news/healthactions/phe/Pages/default.aspx.