Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
As part of the Biden Administration’s response to Hurricane Ida, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) activated its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) for Louisiana to give residents access to the critical prescription medications they need. The program pays for prescription medications for people without health insurance who are affected by disasters.
“When a disaster strikes, medications can get lost or damaged, putting people’s health and well-being at risk and straining local healthcare systems. HHS is here to help,” said HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell “I encourage uninsured residents in Louisiana to take advantage of this vital prescription program.”
At no cost to uninsured patients, those needing certain prescription medications, medical supplies, vaccinations, and some forms of medical equipment during an emergency can obtain a 30-day supply at any of the EPAP participating pharmacies. A
list of the eligible products is available online.
Patients can also use the program to replace many prescription drugs, specific medical supplies, vaccines or medical equipment lost as a direct result of the declared emergency or as a secondary result of loss or damage caused while in transit from the emergency site to the designated shelter facility.
EPAP provides an efficient mechanism for enrolled pharmacies to process claims for prescription medication, specific medical supplies, vaccines and some forms of
durable medical equipment (DME) for eligible individuals in a federally identified disaster area.
Uninsured Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Ida can call Express Scripts, 855-793-7470, to learn if their medication or specific DME is covered by EPAP and to find a participating pharmacy.
Over the last two weeks, President Biden approved storm relief through major disaster declarations for
Louisiana, New York, and New Jersey, and an emergency declaration for Mississippi. Also, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued public health emergencies for Louisiana and Mississippi and then for New York and New Jersey.
To assist residents in the impacted area in coping with the stress of the disasters, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a Disaster Distress Helpline available. The helpline provides immediate 24/7, 365-days-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Residents in affected areas can call or text 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press 2) to connect with a trained crisis counselor. Callers can connect in more than 100 other languages via third-party interpretation services by indicating their preferred language to the responding counselor. A videophone option for deaf or hard-of-hearing American Sign Language users is also available by dialing the helpline from a videophone-enabled device or accessing the "ASL Now" link at
Each HHS division continues to work with state counterparts to determine the hurricane’s effects on public health, medical, and human services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing technical assistance on protecting shelter residents from COVID-19. CDC and other HHS divisions are making detailed, practical information available to help the public protect themselves from threats before, during, and after the storm. This information includes
preventing carbon monoxide poisoning and other
power outage safety risks;
avoiding driving or walking through flood water;
ensuring safe food, water and
medications; and addressing mold and other health risks.
ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
For those interested in providing information to help keep their communities healthy after disaster, please see the HHS list of Public Service Announcements. To learn more about EPAP, check out HHS Emergency Prescription Assistance Program , a video that uses American Sign Language with captioning to explain eligibility and how the program works.
Public health and safety information for Hurricane Ida can be found on the HHS emergency website, phe.gov.
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