Neal Encourages HHS to Address Health Care Industry’s Role in Climate Crisis

Apr 9, 2021
Press Release

SPRINGFIELD, MA—Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) encouraged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to explore available regulatory levers to ensure the U.S. not only meets, but exceeds, targets in the Paris Agreement. In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Chairman Neal emphasized the U.S. federal government’s responsibility to pursue policy and regulatory changes that tackle climate change and promote sustainability. 

“HHS is uniquely positioned to help our nation proactively meet climate change targets ahead of the prescribed dates,” wrote Chairman Neal. “It is my hope that we can work together to ensure HHS is prepared to guide the health care industry in navigating the challenges created by this crisis.”

Neal continued with: “Many Americans are familiar with how climate change can affect health – from extreme weather events to declining air and water quality that most severely impacts elderly, minority, and low-income populations. Yet less attention has been paid to the way the health care sector directly affects and contributes to climate change. Data show that hospitals rank high among the most energy-intensive commercial buildings, and the health care industry as a whole is responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.  The nation’s recommitment to the Paris Agreement carries a mandate for us to examine carbon reduction and also offers opportunities to make health infrastructure more efficient and resilient.”

The Chairman noted that the HHS should examine ways to use tools available to them to drive down carbon emissions and reduce other environment-harming byproducts of the health care system.

Chairman Neal concluded his letter by asking the HHS to identify ways in which the Department can use administrative avenues to drive meaningful change toward business practices that promote sustainability. Additionally, the Chairman requested a briefing for the Ways and Means Committee staff on various related topics outlined in his letter. 

The full letter is available HERE.