Medicare will cover skilled nursing facility care without a three-day inpatient hospital stay for certain beneficiaries affected by this month’s wildfires in southern California, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. The agency also will cover extended care services for certain beneficiaries affected by the disaster who would not normally be eligible for additional SNF Part A benefits; has established a toll-free hotline (855-259-2396) to help non-certified Part B physicians and others who are helping with the recovery efforts receive temporary Medicare billing privileges; and will allow eligible people affected by the California wildfires to join, drop or switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans through March 31. Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan this week declared a public health emergency due to the wildfires beginning Dec. 4.

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