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Emergency Medical Care

The FEMA COVID-19 Emergency Protective Measures Fact Sheet included a list of eligible emergency medical care activities. This fact sheet provides additional guidance related to the eligibility of emergency medical care activities as an emergency protective measure under the Emergency Declaration and any Major Disaster Declaration authorizing Public Assistance (PA) for COVID-19.

General Eligibility Considerations for Emergency Medical Care

Under the President’s March 13 emergency declaration, and subsequent major disaster declarations, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) government entities and certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations are eligible to apply for PA.

Eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials may be reimbursed under the PA program. On March 19, 2020, FEMA released the COVID-19 Emergency Protective Measures Fact Sheet which outlines the types of emergency protective measures that may be eligible under the PA program in accordance with the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration.

General eligibility considerations for emergency medical care activities apply to all claimed work and associated costs. They include Applicant, Facility, Work, and Cost eligibility to which all claims are subject under the PA program.

Applicant Eligibility

SLTT government entities are eligible to apply for PA.  Certain PNP organizations are eligible to apply for PA, including those that own and/or operate medical care facilities.

Private for profit entities, including for profit hospitals, are not eligible for assistance from FEMA under PA.  SLTT government entities may contract with for profit hospitals to carry out eligible emergency protective measures.  FEMA will reimburse the eligible Applicant for the cost of eligible work, and the Applicant will then pay the private entity for the provision of services.

Facility Eligibility

For SLTT governments, evaluating facility eligibility is not necessary for most emergency work.  PNPs are generally not eligible for reimbursement for emergency services because they are not legally responsible for providing those services.

PNPs that own or operate a medical or custodial care facility are eligible for:

  • reimbursement of costs from FEMA related to patient evacuation when such an action is needed.
  • in limited circumstances, reimbursement when essential components of a facility are urgently needed to save lives or protect health and safety, such as an emergency room of a PNP hospital.
  • reimbursement of costs for emergency medical care, as outlined in the Eligible Emergency Medical Care Activities section.

Work Eligibility

Work must be necessary as a direct result of the emergency or major disaster (44 CFR §206.223(a)(1)).

Costs must be directly related to COVID-19 cases. For example, emergency medical care costs related to a non-COVID-19 illness or injury are not eligible. 

Costs for personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers who are working in a hospital treating COVID-19 patients are eligible, as it is necessary to prevent further spread of the virus and protect health care workers and other patients.

Cost Eligibility

All assistance provided under PA is subject to standard program eligibility requirements, including reasonable cost, procurement, and duplication of benefits requirements.

Procurement requirements differ between state versus non-state entities and by normal versus emergency/exigent circumstances. Procurement requirements for the COVID-19 Declarations are:

  • States and territorial governments are required to follow their own procurement procedures as well as the Federal requirements for procurement of recovered materials and inclusion of required contract provisions per 2 C.F.R. §§ 200.317, 200.322, and 200.326.
  • In accordance with the March 17, 2020, memorandum from David Bibo, Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, for the duration of the Public Health Emergency, as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), local governments, tribal governments, nonprofits, and other non-state entities may proceed with new and existing non-competitively procured contracts.
  • SLTT governments may contract with medical providers, including private for-profit hospitals, to carry out any eligible activity described in the Eligible Emergency Medical Care Activities section below.
  • The aforementioned memorandum and other information related to exigent and emergency circumstances procurement is available on the FEMA website at

FEMA cannot:

  • Provide assistance under PA that is covered by another funding source.
  • Duplicate assistance provided by HHS, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or other federal agencies.
    • This includes funding provided by the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Program; the Public Health Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement; the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases; and grants available from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. 
  • Provide PA funding for emergency medical care costs if they are covered by another source, including private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or a pre-existing private payment agreement.
    • The Applicant must be able to provide documentation verifying that insurance coverage or any other source of funding, including private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, has been pursued or does not exist for the costs associated with emergency medical care and emergency medical evacuations.  
    • Each applicant will need to agree to the stipulation in the grant conditions of all FEMA awards that funding is not also being received from another funding source.  FEMA is coordinating with HHS to share information about funding from each agency to assist in the prevention of duplication of benefits.

Other Considerations for Emergency Medical Care Eligibility

When the emergency medical delivery system within a declared area is destroyed, severely compromised, or overwhelmed, FEMA may fund extraordinary costs associated with operating emergency rooms and with providing temporary facilities for emergency medical care or expanding existing medical care capacity in response to the declared incident. Costs associated with emergency medical care should be customary for the emergency medical services provided. Other eligibility considerations specific to emergency medical care activities as an emergency protective measure under the COVID-19 Declarations are provided in this section.

Time Limitations for Completion of Work

  • Emergency medical care costs are typically only eligible for up to 30 days from the declaration date unless extended by FEMA.
  • Under the COVID-19 Declarations, eligible emergency medical care costs are eligible for the duration of the Public Health Emergency, as determined by HHS.

Public versus PNP Facility

  • Emergency medical care is eligible as an emergency protective measure for public and PNP medical facilities, as long as the facility provides an emergency medical service necessary to save lives and/or protect public health and safety. In this case, emergency medical care related to COVID-19 cases is eligible as an emergency protective measure.

Emergency Medical Care versus Long-Term Medical Treatment

  • Only emergency medical care that is necessary to save lives and/or protect public health and safety is eligible.

Long-term medical treatment is not eligible. This includes:

  • Medical care costs incurred once a COVID-19 patient is admitted to a medical facility on an inpatient basis.
  • Costs associated with follow-on treatment of COVID-19 patients beyond the duration of the Public Health Emergency, as determined by HHS.
  • Administrative costs associated with the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Eligible Emergency Medical Care Activities

Emergency medical care activities under the COVID-19 Declarations include, but are not limited to:

  • Triage and medically necessary tests and diagnosis related to COVID-19 cases
  • Emergency medical treatment of COVID-19 patients
  • Prescription costs related to COVID-19 treatment
  • Use or lease of specialized medical equipment necessary to respond to COVID-19 cases
  • Purchase of PPE, durable medical equipment, and consumable medical supplies necessary to respond to COVID-19 cases (note that disposition requirements may apply)
  • Medical waste disposal related to eligible emergency medical care
  • Emergency medical transport related to COVID-19
  • Temporary medical facilities and expanded medical care facility capacity for COVID-19 for facilities overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases and/or to quarantine patients infected or potentially infected by COVID-19.
  • Temporary facilities and expansions may be used to treat COVID-19 patients or non-COVID-19 patients, as appropriate. 

Medical sheltering (e.g., when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded in the near future and cannot accommodate needs)

  • All sheltering must be conducted in accordance with standards and/or guidance approved by HHS/CDC and must be implemented in a manner that incorporates social distancing measures.
  • Non‐congregate medical sheltering may also be eligible, subject to prior approval by FEMA. 
    • Examples include sheltering for those who test positive for COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization but need isolation (including those exiting from hospitals); those who have been exposed to COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization; and asymptomatic high-risk individuals needing social distancing as a precautionary measure, such as people over 65 or with certain underlying health conditions (respiratory, compromised immunities, chronic disease).
  • Sheltering specific populations in non-congregate shelters should be determined by a public health official’s direction or in accordance with the direction or guidance of health officials by the appropriate state or local entities.  The request should specify the populations to be sheltered. 

More Information

For more information, visit the following websites:

1. Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide

See PAPPG V3.1, Chapter 2:VI. Emergency Work Eligibility; Chapter 2:VI.B.9. Emergency Medical Care; and Chapter 2:VI.B.17. Temporary Relocation of Essential Services

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:  Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

3. FEMA: