Harnessing Data to Inform Initial Medicaid Climate Action
The Commonwealth Fund
- Newly available tools and a growing collection of online data resources present more opportunities to help Medicaid estimate the potential impacts of climate change on health and budgets.
- Combining national climate data repositories and Medicaid data can offer glimpses into regions and subpopulations most affected by specific climate exposures, like extreme heat or deteriorating air quality.
- Instead of aiming for full integration, agencies can begin by overlaying Medicaid data with descriptive climate risk tools to discern state- and county-level trends, such as heat, flooding, and smoke exposures.
In the wake of 2023's record-setting heat and widespread wildfire smoke emergencies, the implications for Medicaid beneficiaries and budgets loom large. While published scientific findings specific to Medicaid are currently limited, it is clear that those most vulnerable to climate impacts – including older adults, people with disabilities, and those with complex and chronic health conditions – are significantly represented in the Medicaid population. As climate trends continue to worsen, state Medicaid programs can proactively harness available data both to anticipate and manage these adverse effects and to strategically leverage their substantial purchasing power and regulatory authority to champion decarbonization initiatives within the health system.