Neal Issues Request for Information on Health Care Industry’s Impact on the Climate Crisis

Mar 24, 2022
Press Release

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) issued a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting input from 12 health care organizations regarding their work to combat the climate crisis. This initial request seeks feedback from a number of organizations that have positioned themselves as “early adopters” of efforts to address climate-related issues.

“The impact of the climate crisis on health is well documented – from increasing rates of asthma in vulnerable communities, to an increase in deaths from extreme weather events, heat, infectious and vector-borne diseases, and compromised food supplies,” wrote Chairman Neal in the RFI. “Yet, less attention has been paid to the fact that the health care industry as a whole is responsible for an estimated 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and more than four percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. If the global health sector were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter on the planet.”

The RFI includes a series of questions that prompt recipients to provide input on climate-related disruption to operations and patient care, the ways their organizations integrate climate-related policies into their daily operations to mitigate carbon emissions, and any future plans they have in this area. It also requests feedback on ways the federal government can support organizations in operationally addressing their climate impacts in the short- and long-term. Chairman Neal requested submission of the information to the Ways and Means Committee by the end of the day on Thursday, April 14, 2022.

“Our nation’s health care sector strives to keep people healthy, and that includes protecting Americans from the impacts of the climate crisis,” added the Chairman. “Your responses will be vital in helping us develop policies and supports to promote climate action in the health care sector.”

Today’s RFI builds on the Ways and Means Committee’s previous work exploring the health care industry’s impact on the climate crisis. In April of 2021, Chairman Neal sent a letter requesting that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra identify ways the department can administratively drive meaningful change toward business practices that promote sustainability. In the months following that correspondence, HHS established an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity. Then in January of 2022, Chairman Neal commended Secretary Becerra and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure for their solicitation of comments on health equity, climate health, and qualified health plans in the proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2023. In his letter, Chairman Neal also encouraged the Secretary and Administrator to explore ways to directly incentivize providers and suppliers to examine their responsibility for emissions contributing to the climate crisis.

Currently, efforts to address climate within the health sector are piecemeal and vary by organization and region. This RFI is an important effort to elevate the climate dialogue to a national level to ensure a robust, coordinated effort that can provide needed assistance to health care organizations as they tackle these challenging issues.

Chairman Neal sent today’s RFI to the following organizations: Boston Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic, HCA Healthcare, Cleveland Clinic, Hackensack Meridian Health, Henry Ford Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, Mt. Sinai Health System, Northwell Health, and Stanford Health Care. Future solicitations will focus on other organizations within the heath system to establish a robust picture of the current landscape and inform future action.

The full RFI can be viewed HERE.