CMS to Use Data to Find the Medically Vulnerable in an Emergency

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.

The CMS databases that will participate in the expanded data sharing include the National Claims History, Medicare Integrated Data Repository, Common Working Files, Enrollment Database, Medicare Beneficiary Database, Medicare Drug Data Processing System, Long Term Care Minimum Data Set, and the Home Health Agency Outcome and Assessment Information Set.

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