The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is adding a new routine for use of health information to eight “systems of records” or databases, to ease in identifying vulnerable individuals who may need health assistance during an emergency, such as a disaster.

The agency has issued a notice explaining the expanded use of individual health information, as required under the federal Privacy Act. “Disclosure purposes could include emergency planning for outreach to at-risk populations and individuals during a public health emergency,” according to the notice. “For example, a public health agency could match the records with publicly available power outage data from another department or agency.” In an emergency, the records could identify individuals in a specific community who are depending on electricity to meet medical needs such as receiving oxygen or dialysis.

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