Oregon to Use Medicaid Funds for Climate Change Health Issues

Oregon to Use Medicaid Funds for Climate Change Health Issues

Oregon is set to become the first state to offer Medicaid to low-income patients with climate change-related costs.

This move comes as the Pacific Northwest, usually known for its mild climate, faces longer heat waves and more severe wildfires.

As per KFF, 2O states such as California, Massachusetts, and Washington have already been using Medicaid money to help homeless people prepare healthy diets and proper meal servings.

It’s Oregon that is the first to use it for climate change expenses.

On a visit to Sacramento, California, in early April, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “Climate change is a health care issue,” so Oregon will help the poorest people safeguard their lives from extreme heat and weather changes.

She also added that the Biden administration is also trying to figure out the best possible way to help the poorest people from the heat waves.

Either finding that providing homes will help them or providing air conditioners would save them.

Alexander from state health agencies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island said, “There are 600,000 or 700,000 intellectually disabled people in the United States waiting for Medicaid services. They’re on a waitlist.”

He further added, “Meanwhile Medicaid has money for housing and food and air conditioners for recipients. Seems to me that we should serve the intellectually disabled first before we get into all of these new areas.”

According to the federal government’s Fifth National Climate Assessment, it was concluded that the extreme effects of climate change are one of the growing health risks.

Oregon to Use Medicaid Fund for Climate Change Health Issues
Oregon to Use Medicaid Funds for Climate Change Health Issues

Climate changes with frequent and intense floods, droughts, wildfires, extreme temperatures, and storms have been reported to cause more deaths and cardiovascular disease.

According to a report by the Oregon Health Authority under the state’s Medicaid program, reports about the 102 Oregonians who died during the deadly heat dome that hit the Pacific Northwest in 2021, especially those who “were elderly, isolated and living with low incomes.”

As Dave Baden, the OHA’s deputy director for programs and policy said, “In the last 10-plus years, the amount of fires and smoke events and excessive heat events that we’ve had has shown the disproportionate impact of those events on those with lower incomes.”

Baden also added that Oregon is taking proactive steps to support around 200,000 residents in managing their health at home before extreme weather or climate-related disasters strike.

They’re providing equipment like air conditioning units, mini fridges for medication, portable power supplies for medical devices during outages, space heaters for winter, and air filters for cleaner air during wildfires.

Starting in March, the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program, began identifying patients who might need this help.

However, not everyone qualifies; recipients must meet specific federal guidelines, such as facing significant life transitions.

For instance, someone with a medical condition that could worsen in a heatwave and is at risk of homelessness or has recently been released from prison could receive assistance, while those with stable housing might not meet the criteria.

About the author

Nancy Beverly

Nancy Beverly is a prominent political journalist and editor at World-Wire, known for her sharp analysis and deep understanding of global politics. With a Master's degree in Political Science, she excels in breaking down complex political issues, making them relatable to the public. At World-Wire, Nancy crafts compelling political narratives covering everything from local governance to international relations. Recognized for her expertise, she received the 'Excellence in Political Journalism' award in 2021. Nancy's work not only informs but also enriches her readers' understanding of political dynamics.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment