September 25, 2023

Are you able to bear in mind a summer time with extra disruption from excessive climate occasions than this one? Whether or not we’re staying indoors to guard ourselves from wildfire smoke, evacuating to keep away from flooding, or shedding energy due to extreme heatwaves, a lot of the nation is instantly experiencing extra frequent and extra extreme local weather change impacts than ever earlier than.  The repeated tales within the information this summer time have been sobering.

The dangerous information is that we all know these occasions will proceed as local weather change accelerates. The excellent news is that motion now can nonetheless stop the worst impacts of local weather change from occurring, and far of that motion will be accelerated by the landmark Inflation Discount Act (IRA).

Following the Earth’s third-warmest Could on file, this summer time has wrought havoc due to wildfire smoke originating within the U.S. in addition to Canada and Mexico, harvests ruined by drought within the Midwest and flooding in New England, and excessive warmth that has triggered a surge in emergency room visits and even deaths in southern states. For a lot of, local weather change is not one thing we solely fear about “for future generations,” it’s one thing we fear about now, for ourselves, our kids, our aged relations, and our communities.

For people, it is a second to develop into conversant in preparedness and resilience assets like these on and within the Local weather and Well being Outlook. The primary steps in preparedness can embody easy modifications reminiscent of freezing containers of water to protect clear water and assist maintain meals chilly if the facility goes out. When you or a cherished one is struggling to entry cooling and air filtration tools or to pay for power prices, applications just like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Medicaid might be able to assist. The IRA additionally offers tax credit and rebates for a range of home improvements together with weatherizing home windows and doorways.

A part of preparedness is knowing upcoming climate-related hazards. You’ll be able to obtain apps that may warn you to harmful circumstances such because the AirNow Mobile App for checking air high quality data. To higher perceive the hazards that may have an effect on your space within the coming months, you possibly can subscribe to Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) Alerts to obtain the Local weather and Well being Outlook each month, which can embody month-to-month hazard forecasts for well being threats like wildfires, excessive warmth, and drought.

For well being programs and suppliers, it is a second to assume severely about how outfitted you’re to remain open and serve your group throughout climate-related disasters and excessive climate occasions. Many suppliers are resource-constrained and nonetheless struggling to keep up ample staffing following the COVID-19 pandemic. It may be tempting to consider local weather resilience as a luxurious, however as we’re already seeing, investments in preparedness are key to fulfilling well being care’s mission and defending employees. For instance, Greenwich Hospital’s mixed warmth and energy system has allowed them to stay open during storms, even admitting new sufferers and housing employees throughout Hurricane Sandy.

Many resilience investments are extra reasonably priced than ever earlier than due to the IRA. The HHS Workplace of Local weather Change and Well being Fairness has created a Quickfinder and related webinar sequence to assist well being care organizations navigate the possibly transformative alternatives offered by the IRA’s billions of {dollars} in grants, mortgage applications, and tax credit for resilient and renewable infrastructure. The Quickfinder gives examples of well being entities which have efficiently made resilience and sustainability investments, such because the Kaiser Richmond Medical Middle’s solar-powered microgrid.

Microgrids are an amazing instance of how well being system local weather resilience will be funded by the IRA. Microgrids are self-sufficient power programs that depend on distributed power like mixed warmth and energy and photo voltaic. As a result of microgrids don’t depend on a central grid, they’re extra power environment friendly and might enable services to operate as “islands” throughout energy outages. The IRA’s Funding Tax Credit score (ITC) for Vitality Property can be utilized for renewable power tasks together with microgrid controllers and is on the market to tax-exempt entities by way of elective pay, that means eligible entities can obtain the complete worth of the credit score as a direct cost. The cost will be as much as 30% of the certified funding, doubtlessly growing to 50% if the entity is in a low-income group. The ITC, at the side of a latest Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Providers Categorical Waiver allowing larger use of well being care microgrid programs with power storage for backup energy, is an unprecedented alternative for well being organizations to make main resilience investments with assured returns.

This summer time has been scary for lots of us, and harmful for too many. As you proceed to course of these occasions and think about find out how to defend your loved ones and group, HHS stands with you and can proceed working to strengthen our applications and well being care programs. The occasions of the previous couple of months have underscored that we have now no time to lose.