Oregon Gives Mini Fridges to Residents Under Medicaid to Protect From Climate Crisis

Oregon is conducting a first-of-its-kind experiment using Medicaid funds to mitigate the health risks posed by climate-related catastrophes, such as intense heat, smoke from wildfires, and other similar events.

The most at-risk citizens will get air conditioners, air purifiers, and power banks.

The Biden administration’s goal of expanding Medicaid beyond conventional medical care into the domain of social services includes this extension of Medicaid beyond standard medical care into social services.

Twenty states allocate billions of dollars from Medicaid to initiatives like providing housing assistance to the homeless and ensuring people with diabetes have access to nutritious meals. Among these states are Washington, Massachusetts, and California.

Oregon is the first state to use Medicaid funds specifically for carbon-related expenses as part of its five-year, $1.1 billion initiative to address social needs—including housing and nutrition benefits. It is the aim of state and federal health authorities that pre-disaster efforts may save lives and public dollars.

Climate change is making floods, droughts, wildfires, high heat, and storms more frequent and destructive. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease due to air pollution and other health complications. People of color and low-income Americans are bearing the brunt of the growing healthcare costs; many of these individuals participate in Medicaid, a joint federal and state health insurance program.

Oregon plans to proactively provide air conditioning to its approximately 200,000 inhabitants before climate-related catastrophes or severe weather strikes. Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program, has started requesting that health insurers identify patients who may need assistance in dealing with severe weather.

Thanks to government authority, asthma sufferers in New York may now have air conditioners, while those in California can get air purifiers.

After the 2021 heat wave, Kaiser Permanente sent air conditioners to 81 southwest Washington and Oregon patients whose health issues might worsen in scorching weather, resulting in cost savings. The following year, Kaiser Permanente predicted that it had saved $42,000 in emergency room visits and $400,000 in hospitalizations caused by heat.