In Oregon, Medicaid Is Buying People Air Conditioners – KFF Health News

Oregon has begun providing air conditioners, air purifiers and power banks to some of its Medicaid recipients to help them cope with rising heat, smoky skies and other threats of climate change.

this is a first experiment in the country Which expands the Biden administration’s strategy to expand Medicaid beyond traditional medical care and into the realm of social services.

“Climate change is a health care issue,” said the Secretary of Health and Human Services. xavier becerra He told me, adding that states should be encouraged to experiment with ways to improve people’s health.

But Medicaid expansion into social services could lead to abuse, especially when the government pays for equipment or services that not everyone wants, he said. Sherry GlideDean of New York UniversityGraduate School of Public Service.

“The challenge here is that air conditioning is something that benefits both healthy people and people with really serious conditions,” Glide said. “Most people own air conditioners for reasons that have nothing to do with their health.”

Many states are already spending billions of medicaid dollars On services like helping homeless people get housing and preparing healthy meals for people with diabetes. But Oregon is the first country to spend Medicaid money on climate-related equipment to help its most vulnerable residents — an estimate 200,000 enrollees

Recipients must meet federal guidelines that classify them as “facing certain life changes.” set of requirements Which disqualifies most of the nominators. For example, a person with an underlying medical condition that may worsen during a heat wave, and who is also at risk of homelessness or who has been released from prison in the past year, may receive an air conditioner. But someone with a stable residence may not qualify.

“Each individual will be looked at in terms of what they need for their particular situation,” he said. dave badenDeputy Director of Programs and Policy Oregon Health Authoritywho administers the state’s Medicaid program 1.4 million total enrolled, Program, part of five years $1.1 billion The effort includes housing and nutrition services, mini-fridges to keep medications cold, portable power supplies to run ventilators and other medical equipment during outages, space heaters for winter and air during wildfire season. Air filters are also paid for to improve the quality.

Scientists and public health officials say climate change poses increasing health risks, of the federal government latest climate assessment Projects that will lead to more frequent and intense floods, droughts, wildfires, extreme temperatures and storms, more deaths, heart disease and other problems from poor air quality.

The growing health impacts disproportionately affect low-income Americans and people of color, who are often covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for low-income people.

most of 102 Oregonians who died during the deadly heat dome that hit the Pacific Northwest in 2021 were “elderly, isolated and low-income,” Oregon Health Authority report found.

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