News release

For immediate release
Thursday, March 19, 2020

CMS approves Washington State’s request for Medicaid waiver

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)  approved an 1135 Medicaid waiver request for Washington State. The state submitted its request for 1135 waiver authority on March 15.

On March 13, President Trump declared the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation a national emergency.  That enabled CMS to waive certain requirements in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP under Section 1135 emergency authority. CMS may grant state and territorial Medicaid agencies a wider range of flexibilities, and states may now submit Section 1135 waiver requests for CMS approval to remove barriers that interfere with needed services.

 “I recognize that Governor Inslee and his team are working around the clock to respond to the escalating crisis in Washington State,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “We are committed to stripping away any red tape that gets in the way of states or providers effectively managing this public health emergency.”

"We appreciate CMS's close collaboration and responsiveness as we continue working to ensure we have the flexibility we need to support Washington residents," said Health Care Authority State Medicaid Director MaryAnne Lindeblad.

The state’s approval letter can be found here, and includes flexibilities that enable the state to focus its resources on combatting the outbreak and provide the best possible care to Washington's Medicaid clients. 

CMS provides guidance to states on how to apply for Section 1135 waivers through the Medicaid Disaster Response Tool Kit. CMS is developing checklists and tools to expedite requests and approvals for waivers and other commonly requested flexibilities.

Washington is the second state to receive approval for 1135 Medicaid waiver authority, following approval of the Florida request on March 16. 

For more information