California wildfire victims and Medicare

November 13, 2018 0

Did the recent California wildfires affect you?

We realize that this might be a difficult time for you as a caregiver or an elder affected by the fires.

There is some good news for California wildfire victims who are on Medicare: the deadline to enroll in and/or review and change your options for 2019 has been extended.

Regular open enrollment for Medicare ends on December 7. However, the fires may have caused you to move out of your home. Because of this, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare have given California wildfire victims an enrollment extension.

The Human and Health Services has categorized the fires as a public health emergency and thus they have also made other provisions for Medicare beneficiaries.

What you should know.

If you are or your elderly loved one is a Medicare beneficiary, here’s what is available to you.

  • Haven’t enrolled yet? Call the Medicaid hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on how to take advantage of the extension.


  • Waivers for skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and assistance for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Here’s what that means.
    • If you have recently exhausted your SNF benefits, you could get renewed SNF coverage without having to start a new benefit period.
    • You had to evacuate or be transferred because of the wildfires. If you or your loved one needs skill nursing care (SNF), you can get temporary emergency coverage without a qualifying hospital stay.
    • If you lost your prescription medications in the fire, Medicare may cover the replacement cost of those medications. You can get coverage for up to the quantity your pharmacy originally dispensed.
    • To get more knowledge on what might be covered during this public health emergency period, you can either call the hotline or read detailed information here.


  • Because this is a public health emergency, Medicare Advantage plans will have to waive prior authorization and any similar requirements. This will help affected beneficiaries get care from non-network providers and hospitals faster.


  • Are you on dialysis? If you cannot get care from your regular provider, call the Northern California patient hotline at 800-637-4767 or the hotline number in Southern California at 800-637-4767. They will help you sort out where you can go for care.

It’s a difficult time…

We realize that these fires are a difficult time for everyone in so many different ways.

If you were looking to hear some good news during this time, I hope this helped.

At the very least, call the Medicare hotline to find out what is available to you.

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