WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama declared a national emergency Saturday to deal with the "rapid increase in illness" from the H1N1 influenza virus.
The move allows the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements" in order to help health care facilities enact emergency plans to deal with the "pandemic."
Those requirements are contained in the Medicare, Medicaid, and state Children's Health Insurance programs, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule.
"The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities," Obama said in a statement.
"Thus, in recognition of the continuing progression of the pandemic, and in further preparation as a nation, we are taking additional steps to facilitate our response."