Several HHS officials to meet with Maui wildfire survivors, Hawaii leaders

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will visit Maui on Friday, meeting with those impacted by the wildfires and response personnel.
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:54 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 24, 2023 at 7:48 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced several officials will visit Maui on Friday, meeting with those impacted by the wildfires and response personnel on the ground.

Officials said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Dawn O’Connell, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Administrator Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon are expected to visit.

They will also meet with local and state officials to determine how they can further assist survivors.

So far, ASPR had activated the emergency prescription assistance program which helps people who don’t have health insurance get prescription drugs, vaccinations, and medical supplies.

PODCAST: Struggling to cope with the devastation in Lahaina? Here’s what you can do

Becerra also issued a “public health emergency” on Aug. 11 giving the giving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries on the ground.

There are already 95 first responders with Health and Human Services on Maui, including a mortuary response team and victim identification center team to assist Maui County.

Meanwhile, SAMHSA is working with the Hawaii behavioral health authority to help them access federal funding to meet increased behavioral health needs for communities impacted throughout Hawaii for a prevention, treatment, and recovery supports.

A disaster distress hotline has also been formed for survivors in need help. If you’re in need of emotional or psychological support, call 1-800-985-5990.

You can get immediate crisis counseling by calling that number, in multiple languages, including Hawaiian, Ilocano, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Tagalog.