Important Notices or Statements for Impacted Persons in Disaster Areas
Hurricane Maria – September 2017
CancerCare is providing direct financial assistance to people in active treatment for cancer who have remained in Puerto Rico, and to residents of Puerto Rico who have evacuated to the continental United States. Grants will be distributed via check, and can be used to help offset the costs of medical bills, homecare, childcare, transportation, general household bills, lodging and other treatment-related expenses. To apply for financial assistance, patients or health care providers can call CancerCare’s toll-free Hopeline at 800-813-HOPE (4673).
In addition, oncology providers in Puerto Rico will be able to use funds from this initiative to order medical transportation and treatment for individual patients. These services will be provided by a local medical transport company and a local courier service, with funds administered by CancerCare. Oncology providers in Puerto Rico are encouraged to have patients call for assistance while they are at a treatment center.
USDA announces SNAP policy for displaced Puerto Rico residents who relocated as a result of recent hurricanes to ensure access to food assistance, with expedited approval.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is offering foreclosure relief to families living in affected areas, as well as mortgage and home rehabilitation programs to assist disaster victims.
To reach your family members and friends, the American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available and open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876.
Social media accounts that offer up-to-date information in Spanish for Puerto Rico include:
- GobiernoUSA.gov - @GobiernoUSA, Facebook
- FEMA - @FEMAespanol
- Portavoz de FEMA - @FEMAPortavoz
- FEMA Region 2 - @Femaregion2
- La Fortaleza - Twitter, Facebook
- Gobernador Ricardo Rossell - @ricardorossello, Facebook
- Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration @PRFAA, Facebook
- Agencia Estatal para el Manejo Emergencias y Administracin Desastres de Puerto Rico @AEM, Facebook
Social Media Accounts That Offer Up-To-Date Information for the US Virgin Islands
- FEMA - @femaregion2, Facebook
- VITEMA - @readyuvsi, Facebook
- Government House of the U.S. Virgin Islands - @govhouseusvi, Facebook
Disaster Assistance -- St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and some municipalities in Puerto Rico are eligible for individual disaster assistance.
- There are several ways to see if you qualify for financial assistance --Use the address lookup on DisasterAssistance.gov to find out if you qualify for aid.
- Fill out the DisasterAssistance.gov questionnaire and online aid application.
- Call 1-800-621-3362 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585) or to get help in person, find a Disaster Recovery Center near you with the Disaster Recovery Center locator
Emotional Stress & Coping Resource -- To talk to a professional who can help you cope with emotional distress from the storm: Call the @disasterdistressline at (800) 985-5990 crisis support services are available 24/7.
Hurricane Irma – September 2017
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -- Veterans from Hurricane Irma’s storm-affected areas who require immediate assistance may contact the Health Resource Center Disaster Hotline at 1-800-507-4571
USDA approves temporary waivers and assistance to help households with SNAP benefits in Florida, Georgia and the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico access food in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Details can be found here.
Hurricane Harvey – August 2017
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -- Veterans from storm-affected areas who require immediate assistance may contact the Health Resource Center Disaster Hotline at 1-800-507-4571
Disaster Assistance --This resource connects and has a finder to identify government coordinated assistance programs specific to areas where disaster has been declared
FEMA Disaster Resources -- Resources gathered by FEMA, including tips for applying for assistance and avoiding fraud and price gouging.
Charities providing assistance or supplies during Harvey disaster recovery -- Charity Navigator’s List of Harvey Relief Charities
RXOpen by HealthcareReady --This resource provides a list of open pharmacies in areas impacted by disaster that are available for patient medication needs. Phone support is available at 1-866-847-2694
Coping with Cancer After a Natural Disaster: FAQ for Patients and Caregivers --This information is provided by the American Cancer Society and is geared to help answer questions important to those with cancer during times of natural disaster emergencies.
Hurricane Harvey Resources --This helpful information is provided by the American Heart Association for patients within the communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey as they seek medical care.
Social Security Benefits -- If you normally receive income payments related to SSI or SSDI, including retirement benefits, survivor benefits, disabled worker, or other social security income, this statement released provides details on how your money will be delivered or delayed.
Receiving Care for those with Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP Coverage –
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) have issued overriding waivers in the geographic areas within Texas to prevent gaps in coverage for beneficiaries who are insured through Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This administrative relief allows providers to provide immediate relief to those affected by the hurricane and resulting floods, without needing to apply for an individual waiver and other normal billing processes. This relief includes out-of-network pharmacies who may provide prescription or medications to patients.
CMS has also waived some admission requirements for those needing Skilled Nursing Facilities, Home Health Agencies and Critical Access Hospital access.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid are working with the States of Texas and Louisiana to meet the needs of those who need dialysis, including coordinating additional renal dialysis facilities and transportation assistance to ensure beneficiary care is not interrupted.
Read more about these and other disaster-related efforts impacting beneficiaries at www.cms.gov/emergency
Getting Prescriptions in Disaster with Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP insurance coverage.
Red Cross - Find Open Shelters Locator Tool --This list shares open shelters that are available for local persons needing immediate safe shelter.
Houston Specific Resources -- This resource provided by KPRC-2, NBC affiliate news station gathers a number of local, state and federal programs that provide assistance.
Emotional and Financial Support for Cancer Patients -- Provided by CancerCare, patients impacted by Hurricane Harvey can apply for financial grants to help patients in active cancer treatment and be connected to emotional support services by oncology social workers. Contact CancerCare’s Hopeline phone at 800-813-4673.
Financial Support for Blood Cancer Patients -- Provided by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, patients living in TX and LA areas impacted by the hurricane destruction in active treatment for blood cancer are eligible for $500 grants to help with cancer-related necessities such as transportation to treatment, lost or damaged medications and other needs related to healthcare access. Call 800-955-4572 or visit www.lls.org/hurricane-harvey-relief.
A list of support provided by Cancer Support Community and Cancer Support Community North Texas division to specifically address the emotional and treatment needs of cancer patients impacted by the storm.
SAMHSA have activated its Disaster Distress Hotline to aid those experiencing behavior health effects of the storm. The helpline provides immediate crisis counselling and is operated 24 hours-a-day with multilingual support. Call 800-985-5990 for assistance or text TalkWithUs to 66746 from your phone to be connected to a trained counselor.
Texas Oncology can help displaced cancer patients in need of temporary relocation of treatment or interim care due to the storm. Call 888-864-4226 for assistance.
Pfizer RxPathways, a service that connects patients to available Pfizer medication and pharmaceutical assistance programs , has activated its disaster relief protocols which includes aid for patients whose mediation has been destroyed or lost, or needs an alternate shipping location. Call 844-989-7284 to be connected with medicine access counselors.
Many telehealth companies are offering free or heavily discounted non-emergency medical services utilizing a national network of providers for patients in these areas, without a prior in-person visit. TX Governor provides temporary order that allow out-of-state providers to assist patients with medication DoctorOnDemand, as an example, provides a list of the type of issues telehealth medicine can offer at this time. TelaDoc provides instructions on how to access here. Some additional telehealth providers and services are discussed in this article.
For Military members with USAA Homeowners or renters insurance: If your zone was evacuated and you have homeowners or renters insurance through USAA, call them and let them know. Save all receipts and they may pay for your gas, food and hotel to evacuate. It's called prohibited usage for emergencies under renters/owners insurance. They will cover lodging for up to two weeks. Even if you do not have other insurance claims related to damage on your house, this is a provided benefit. Call 800-531-8722 or connect with one of the local TX response team locations.
Many health insurance companies have temporarily adjusted plan policies and activated additional resources that will help ensure that their plan members are able to access services and get the medical care, behavior health support and medications they need. Here is a list of some of the press releases with disaster specific information from insurance plans. If your insurance is not listed below, contact the customer service number on your card for details related to your specific plan.
- Aetna Health Insurance
- United Healthcare insurance for Texans and Louisiana plan members
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
The USDA Food Assistance SNAP programs have expanded to provide disaster specific assistance for areas in Texas, including providing flexibility to purchase hot foods and hot foods products at SNAP retailers, and replacement food options. Details about all the specific benefits and services can be found here, including provisions for WIC, NSLP and CACFP beneficiaries.