Filed Under:Health Insurance, Disability

CMS to offer records to emergency aid authorities

The aftermath of Hurricane Isaac (AP photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
The aftermath of Hurricane Isaac (AP photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to make eight of its record systems available to public health authorities and their delegates.

The goal would be to help authorities identify individuals who may need health assistance in the event of a disaster or other incident, and to help authorities plan and provide assistance, CMS says in a systems change notice set to appear in the Federal Register Tuesday.

The federal Privacy Act of 1974 requires CMS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to publish notices when it changes the way it uses record systems.

The new routine use request would affect the CMS National Claims History system, the Medicare Integrated Data Repository, the Common Working Files system, the Enrollment Database, the Medicare beneficiary database, the Medicare Drug Data Processing System, the Long Term Care-Minimum Data Set, and the Home Health Agency Outcome and Assessment Information.

CMS would work with the HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response to help make the systems data available to public health authorities, officials said.

"For example," officials said, "a public health agency could match the records with publicly  available power outage data from another department or agency. In the event of a public health  emergency that involves power outages, the public health agency would then be able to use the  results of the matched data to identify individuals in the affected community who are dependent on energy for meeting their medical needs, for example individuals living in the community who are dependent on dialysis."

The routine use is on track to take effect 30 days after the official Federal Register publication data.

Members of the comment can comment on the notice, and comments could lead to revisions in the notice, officials said.

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Nichole Morford
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