BATON ROUGE- Thousands of people have incurred medical costs since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and have no way to pay these bills. Relief for these individuals is now available.

Beginning March 13, 2006, Louisiana doctors, hospitals and other medical service providers who treated uninsured patients in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita can begin billing Louisiana Medicaid for these services. Payments will be distributed from pools of federal funds available for this purpose.

In order to be reimbursed for serving this population, doctors, hospitals and other service providers must have been enrolled as a Louisiana Medicaid provider as of August 24, 2005 and submit an invoice by June 30, 2006 for each Katrina evacuee or Rita evacuee served. Providers will be reimbursed only for dates of service starting on August 24, 2005 for Katrina evacuees and Sept. 23, 2005 for Rita evacuees. The pools will cover services provided up to Jan. 31, 2006.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must give final approval on Louisiana's plan for distributing the federal funds to providers who served uninsured patients. The process could change based on guidance from CMS.

"In the days and weeks after Katrina and Rita, thousands of Louisianans found themselves in need of medical treatment, but with no way to pay for it," said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise, "With this pool of federal money, the state can reimburse providers who treated these patients in their time of need."

Louisiana Medicaid will reimburse providers only for evacuees who received medically necessary treatment, but who had no other source of payment for these services. Providers can be paid for people who lived in the Katrina or Rita disaster zone and meet the above criteria.

Providers can be reimbursed for inpatient and outpatient treatment by hospitals, physician services, emergency ambulance transportation, home health services, treatment in nursing homes and various other medically necessary services as allowed by the federal government. 

Providers can find the invoices to file these claims as well as more information about covered services and reimbursement procedures from and