The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has granted Florida and South Carolina 340B program enrollment flexibility, as public health emergencies (PHEs) were declared in both states in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which left widespread destruction, flooding, and power outages over a 48-hour period.
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra declared a PHE in Florida Sept. 26 and in South Carolina Sept. 30.
Eligible entities in the two states may enroll in 340B immediately without waiting for the next regularly scheduled quarterly registration period. The third-quarter registration started Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 15. Eligible entities may enroll immediately after Oct. 15 for as long as the PHEs in their states are still in effect.
“We recognize that circumstances surrounding disaster relief warrant flexibility for entities eligible for participation in the 340B Program,” HRSA said in a notice on the Office of Pharmacy Affairs homepage. “We believe this will enable these entities to meet the needs of the residents affected by this disaster. If you are in the listed states/territories and would like to enroll, email the 340B Prime Vendor Program or call 1-888-340-2787.”
HHS yesterday did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it has temporarily reassigned U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) officers and staff to Florida and South Carolina to aid in the post-hurricane relief efforts. Several OPA staff members are PHS officers.
Florida and South Carolina join the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, as well as Kentucky and New Mexico, which were previously granted 340B program enrollment flexibility due to PHEs declared in those areas.
Hurricane Ian slammed into Florida’s southwest coast last Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, continued across the state to the east coast, gathered renewed strength over the Atlantic Ocean, then made landfall again Friday in South Carolina as a Category 1 storm. Ian was later downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
Florida Hospital Association’s CEO Mary Mayhew told NPR on Oct. 2 that five hospitals in the state lost power and water and many had to evacuate patients. She said that 4 of those 5 hospitals now have power and the water issues have been improved. There still is one hospital that is without water, and the remaining hospitals are still dealing with water pressure issues.
HRSA granted Puerto Rico 340B enrollment flexibility Sept. 22, after Becerra declared a PHE there Sept. 21, in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, which left massive flooding and most of the island without power.