Oregon to cover health-related climate expenses

Oregon will expand Medicaid coverage to address hunger, homelessness, and climate change.

According to a Sept. 28 news release from the Oregon Health Authority, the federal government approved the state's Medicaid waiver. Additionally, Oregon received $1.1 billion in federal funds through Designated State Health Programs. Under the waiver, the funding will address health-related social needs, coverage for certain food assistance, housing supports, and other interventions that are considered medically appropriate, according to the release. 

The funding will also extend to individuals experiencing certain life transitions, including those homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

State health officials obtained federal approval to cover housing and nutritional support services to reduce health inequity and stabilize the circumstances of individuals who are at risk of worsening health during major life disruptions. Health-related social needs include housing support, including rental assistance for up to six months for groups who have been marginalized, such as youth in foster care, people who are homeless and low-income adults.  

Additionally, the state will provide air conditioners, air filters, and generators to people with high-risk clinical needs and who live in regions affected by extreme weather events as declared by the federal government or the state's governor. 

Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said the state is committed to eliminating health inequality and ensuring the healthcare system provides optimal health and well-being for everyone in the state. 

"This agreement gives us more tools and resources to tackle the problems in people’s lives that undermine their health such as lack of housing, food, or consistent health coverage. We’re excited to work with partners in every corner of the state to help more people in Oregon live healthier lives, hold down the growth of health care costs and strengthen communities across our state," said Mr. Allen.

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