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September 6, 2017
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

HHS Secretary Price declares public health emergency in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Irma

Following the lead of President Trump’s emergency declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma continues its track in the Caribbean. In addition, he has taken action that gives HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

“As Hurricane Irma bears down on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, HHS stands ready to help our fellow Americans and do all we can to ensure they have access to the healthcare services and support they need,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Assets are being mobilized to address both immediate healthcare needs and prepare for long-term challenges. We are doing everything in our power to maintain access to care for those with Medicare and Medicaid by supporting the ability of hospitals and other healthcare facilities that participate in those programs to provide timely care to as many people impacted by the storm as possible.”

In addition to increasing the flexibility in providing services to, and assistance for, CMS beneficiaries, HHS has deployed approximately 70 personnel to affected areas to help state and local authorities plan and respond to communities’ medical needs, and additional staff is on standby to assist.

Today’s declaration of public health emergencies for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands follows similar emergency declarations for Texas and Louisiana that Secretary Price signed to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Secretary Price acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act.

These actions and flexibilities are effective retroactively to September 5, 2017.

Public health and safety information for Hurricane Irma can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/irma2017/Pages/default.aspx

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: September 6, 2017

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