Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Senator Edward J. Markey, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and author of the Green New Deal for Health, announced the introduction of the Granting Resources for Eliminating Emissions Now in (GREEN) Hospitals Act. The legislation would provide $105 billion to revive a New Deal-era program to modernize and weatherize health facilities to reduce emissions, protect public health and ensure that more Americans have access to health care before, during, and after climate disasters and extreme weather events.
As the climate crisis brings stronger storms, hotter heat waves and more severe wildfires to communities, the United States’ aging medical infrastructure is increasingly at risk. Hundreds of hospitals along the East Coast are currently at risk of flooding from hurricanes. Heatwaves and wildfires threaten the power infrastructure of the health care system across the West. Devastating tornadoes have already destroyed critical rural hospitals in the South. Severe flooding is forcing health care facilities to close, including Norwood Hospital in Massachusetts.
Medical facilities are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and they lack the capital to invest in critical infrastructure that would improve pre-disaster mitigation and climate resiliency. In addition to people requiring acute medical attention in the aftermath of extreme weather, communities rely on undisrupted access to care. Pregnant people need access to prenatal care, people with opioid use disorder need access to medication treatment, and kidney patients need access to dialysis.
Specifically, the GREEN Hospital Act would invest $100 billion to revive the New Deal’s Hill-Burton grant program to fund capital projects that increase capacity to provide essential health care and update facilities to become more resilient to climate disasters and public health crises. In exchange for Hill-Burton funding, medical facilities would commit to a community service obligation to provide a specific amount of free or below-cost health care services to qualified individuals unable to pay. The legislation would also provide $5 billion into planning grants to fund pre-development planning needs, such as community assessments and engineering evaluations, so sustainability and resiliency projects for medical facilities meet the needs of the surrounding communities and patient populations.