The President has declared a national emergency, which allows hospitals to submit requests for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for certain funds.
Start the application for the FEMA funding process by submitting the appropriate Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) forms and creating a Request for Public Assistance account. Once completed, FEMA reimbursement requests are sent to the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), which will them submit to FEMA. (The HICS forms were originally designed for all responders by FEMA and were adapted to hospital needs with FEMA approving all changes, so they are helpful for reimbursement documentation.)
In past disasters, county Medical and Health Operational Area Coordinators (MHOACs) have sought to provide consultation prior to submitting to FEMA. Depending on the practice in each county, a MHOAC may be involved prior to a hospital’s submission for FEMA reimbursement.
Note: The Stafford Act does not cover costs that are already covered by patients’ health plans or insurers, or by hospitals’ insurance policies.
When filling out any of the forms, remember that they will probably be read by others who do not have a medical background, so it is important to be descriptive. Personnel descriptions should include start and stop times, as well as HICS or other positions assumed.
Under the Stafford Act, daily operations are not covered for declared events, but activating your Emergency Operations Plan and using HICS means you are not operating under daily operations so, therefore, they may be reimbursable. For equipment, supplies, transportation, etc., FEMA will need to know specifically what it was, how it was ordered, and for what purpose it was used.
Additional resources and tools that may be helpful include:
- FEMA Reimbursement for Acute Care Hospitals
- HICS Incident Action Form templates for use specifically with COVID-19
- CalOES forms
- California Public Health and Medical Emergency Operations Manual
- CHA’s Preparing Hospitals for Disaster A Financial Perspective
- HICS Infectious Disease Incident Response Guide This forms helps with the entire infectious disease response, but the end section, Demobilization and Recovery, lists actions to take.
- CHA’s Hospital Seasonal Influenza/Pandemic Preparedness Checklist
- CDC Grant Writing Guidance and Tips
- Rural Health Information Hub on Grant Writing for Small and Rural Hospitals
Under daily response, the Stafford Act does not cover investor-owned facilities, but FEMA is working on including investor-owned facilities and will update this as soon as a decision is made.