Oregon distributes nearly 1,000 air conditioners, air filters and other climate-control devices to Oregon Health Plan members | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Oregon distributes nearly 1,000 air conditioners, air filters and other climate-control devices to Oregon Health Plan members

Three months after Oregon launched the nation’s first climate-related benefits tied to Medicaid coverage, nearly 1,000 eligible Oregon Health Plan (OHP) members have received vital devices to help keep them healthy.

These devices include air conditioners, heaters, air filters, mini refrigeration units for storing medications, and portable power supplies to operate medical equipment (i.e., ventilators during power outages). Air conditioners made up 44% of the 939 devices distributed from March 1 to May 31.

click to enlarge Oregon distributes nearly 1,000 air conditioners, air filters and other climate-control devices to Oregon Health Plan members
Oregon Health Authority
OHA and partners are working to distribute climate devices to eligible OHP members ahead of heat waves and wildfires this summer. Oregon recorded its hottest years in state history during the last five years, and climate models show the severity of heat waves are likely to increase.

The new climate-related benefits are part of Oregon’s federally funded expansion of OHP coverage, which includes health-related social needs (HRSN) services that help maintain health and well-being but are not traditionally thought of as medical services.

The state is first extending eligibility for climate devices to people who are experiencing life transitions. This includes people who are: currently or previously involved in the Oregon child welfare system; homeless or at risk of becoming homeless; transitioning to dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid; adults and youth recently discharged from Institutions for Mental Disease (IMDs) or released within the last year from incarceration.

To be eligible, members cannot live in a group setting or shelter and need access to consistent and safe power to use these devices. Climate resources must also be part of a member’s health need or treatment.

“Our climate is changing and the way we deliver health care has to change with it,” said Dave Baden, deputy director of OHA. “People with lower incomes and chronic conditions are among those most likely to experience heat exhaustion, heat stroke or complications of other health conditions related to extreme climate events. Access to these services will reduce health disparities and offer life-saving resources to people in Oregon.”

This story is based on submitted information and has not been verified by our news team.
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