PORTLAND, the largest city in Oregon — As the typically mild Pacific Northwest region experiences longer heat waves and more ferocious wildfires, Oregon is preparing to become the first state in the nation to cover the costs of climate change for certain low-income patients through its Medicaid program. This will be done in response to Oregon’s preparations to become the first state to do so.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, beginning in 2024, Medicaid enrollees who have health problems and who live in areas that have been declared a federal or state disaster due to extreme weather will have access to funding for the purchase of devices such as air conditioners and air filters. These enrollees will also be required to live in areas that have been declared a federal or state disaster.
The director of the OHA, Patrick Allen, stated that the organization’s mission is to assist those who are “struggling to cope with the repercussions of extreme heat, wildfires, and other disasters caused by climate change.” This move is connected to what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the United States Department of Health and Human Services have referred to as “groundbreaking Medicaid programs” in both the state of Oregon and the state of Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, the federal government said that it would continue to exempt certain Medicaid requirements for both states. In an effort to address the socioeconomic aspects that frequently lead to poor health, these waivers will extend beyond the provision of medical care to include assistance with items such as the provision of food and shelter for those who have clinical requirements.
New Medicaid initiatives in Oregon that address climate change, nutrition, and housing will receive $1.1 billion in additional federal funding. These initiatives fall under the category of “health-related social needs,” which was developed by Oregon health officials. In the course of the subsequent five years, the state will serve as a testing ground for the newly formulated policies.
“Health care does not occur in a vacuum; it’s evident that we must look beyond a traditional, segmented approach to effectively serve the needs of individuals, particularly those who are battling complex difficulties,” Governor Kate Brown of Oregon said in a statement.
The Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, has promised to “continue to welcome creative changes” in order to “provide quality treatment, better health outcomes, and equity.” There are two reasons why the new Medicaid plan in Oregon is noteworthy: the first is that it is the first in the country to include coverage of climate change, and the second is that it will automatically enroll children in the program up to the age of six without requiring their families to re-enroll them every year. Both of these aspects make the new Medicaid plan in Oregon noteworthy.
After the “hot dome” weather phenomenon in the summer of 2021, which caused record temperatures and deaths, officials in the Pacific Northwest have been attempting to acclimate themselves to the foreseen reality of more extreme heat spells. This is because more extreme heat spells are likely to occur. In Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, over 800 people passed away as a result of the extreme heat that caused temperatures to exceed 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) in Portland and break heat records in cities and towns throughout the region. A significant number of the dead were older folks who had been residing on their own.
The new Medicaid program in Oregon provides protection against financial hardship by covering the cost of backup generators in the event that there is a loss of power. Additionally, the program covers the cost of devices that keep the home at a suitable temperature and free of pollutants. To put it another way, according to Allen’s explanation, “it is premised on the medical indication that you are more prone to heat episodes.”
You may be qualified to get such equipment if you are a member of Medicaid in the state of Oregon and you live in an area where an emergency has been declared due to extreme weather conditions. One example of how people’s health could be negatively impacted by climate change is the increased risk of heat-related illnesses during heat waves. Extreme weather events such as storms and floods, which can also disrupt food supply networks, can have a considerable negative influence on people’s health, both physically and mentally.
These threats disproportionately affect areas with poor incomes, populations that are getting older, and those who already have health problems.
Medicaid was established by the federal government and the various states as a way to assist low-income persons of any age in affording medical treatment. Each state determines its own eligibility requirements as well as the scope of the services it offers. The federal government is responsible for paying a portion of the expenses that are spent by the state. “there is a lot of talk in climate change about making sure that when we address the health hazards of a changing climate, that we do so in a way that decreases inequities,” said Kristie Ebi, a professor in the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington.
Ebi is quoted as saying that “there is a lot of talk in climate change about making sure that when we address the health hazards of a changing climate.”
According to Ebi, the proposal for Oregon’s Medicaid “offers an opportunity to minimize some of those inequities” for individuals who, for instance, are unable to pay for a generator to keep life-saving equipment running during heat waves because they are unable to afford it. Both the state of Oregon and the state of Massachusetts are working to broaden the pool of individuals who are qualified to receive benefits from Medicaid, such as financial assistance for housing and food.
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A few examples of the several kinds of assistance with wholesome food that are offered include customized meal plans based on an individual’s dietary requirements as well as Medicaid-funded prescriptions for fresh produce. Examples of the several sorts of housing services that may be provided include assisting in finding a rental, packing, and preventing evictions from taking place.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicaid enrollees in the state of Massachusetts who are children or pregnant women with specific clinical needs will be eligible for supplemental meal support if they are enrolled in the program.
In the state of Oregon, a person who is experiencing a significant change in their life, such as being homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, may be eligible for short-term rental assistance for a period of up to six months.