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Feds want hospitals, health providers to provide data on carbon emissions


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is aiming to create a voluntary program for hospitals to share information about their impact on the environment.

For the first time, the federal government wants to ask hospitals and other healthcare providers to share data on carbon emissions and their impact.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is looking to launch a voluntary environmental program for hospitals and healthcare organizations. If finalized, the program would begin Jan. 1, 2026 and run until Dec. 30, 2030.

For hospitals and healthcare providers that wish to participate, the CMS would ask organizations to monitor and address emissions, and their impact on health outcomes and costs, according to a fact sheet from the agency released earlier this month. The CMS acknowledges it’s the first time the federal agency is asking for health data on greenhouse gas emissions.

If the program is finalized, participants would be asked to share information

related to their organization, the energy use in their buildings, their use of anesthesia and transportation emissions.

The voluntary program is part of CMS’ broader Transforming Episode Accountability Model (TEAM) program. The model is designed to evaluate whether episode-based payments for some costly procedures would reduce Medicare spending and lead to better care, the agency says.

If hospitals choose to participate in the environmental program, CMS says it would offer guidance to help organizations reduce their carbon emissions, including comparing emissions with others. The agency would evaluate their plans to curb pollution.

The agency also says those who choose to participate may receive public recognition from CMS.

Potential measures could involve providers forming sustainability teams and implementing decarbonization plans.

The CMS also suggests it would ask participants to set goals for cutting emissions from anesthetic gases. Some hospitals have been switching the anesthesia they use, moving to agents that pose less harm to the environment.

In addition, the government said participants in the voluntary program will be asked to set goals tied to reducing emissions related to transportation, including reducing gas use from their fleets and incorporating the use of more electric vehicles.

The government says hospitals may be familiar with some of the environmental goals, since they are similar to the Joint Commission’s new program to certify hospitals for their sustainability programs.

More hospitals and health systems are working to reduce their emissions and waste, industry leaders say.

CMS notes that the healthcare industry is responsible for about 8.5% of America’s carbon emissions. The government has previously asked hospitals and healthcare organizations to pledge to meet President Biden administration’s goals to reduce emissions.

Dozens of health systems, representing hundreds of hospitals, have pledged to meet the Biden administration’s targets for healthcare organizations to cut emissions in half by 2030.

Hospitals have said they welcome support from the government on setting goals to reduce their environmental impact, but they don’t want to see mandatory requirements for cutting carbon emissions.

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