Text of Letter (PDF)
Washington (December 16, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, today sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting HHS modernize current Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations that require certain health care facilities adhere to outdated electrical standards requiring the use of fossil-fueled-based generators, often powered by diesel fuel, as the emergency power source for their buildings. An update to CMS requirements would further empower health care facilities to access climate investments from the Inflation Reduction Act to deploy safer, cheaper, and more reliable clean energy infrastructure in the form of renewable-powered microgrids, or independent electric grids. Adoption of these microgrids and the phasing out of fossil-fuel based generators would help to protect patient and public health from diesel generators’ pollution and their contribution to worsening climate change, ensuring that health care facilities uphold continuity of care for the communities they serve.
“The Biden administration has made a whole-of-government approach to combatting climate change a clear priority, but outdated [CMS] regulations are preventing health care facilities from transitioning to clean energy infrastructure,” wrote Senator Markey. “As climate change worsens, our health care systems will increasingly feel the weight, whether through disaster response, treating the health consequences of trauma, or a rise in climate-related health conditions, including asthma, overheating, or the spread of infectious disease. […] In order to protect our health and respond to our climate crisis, we must support the adaptation of our health systems to the realities of climate change. Moving our health care facilities away from reliance on fossil fuels is an important part of that process.”
In addition to his request for waivers of the outdated CMS requirements, Senator Markey further requested responses from HHS to the following questions by January 6, 2023:
- What steps, if any, has HHS or CMS taken to update the Conditions of Participation to adopt the most up-to-date National Electrical Code?
- Does CMS have plans to update its Life Safety Code provisions on energy infrastructure for hospitals and health facilities? If so, what is the timeline for promulgating updated standards? If not, why not?
- What other CMS Conditions of Participation reference standards that are out of date?
- What effect do outdated codes have on patient health and safety?
- What effect do outdated codes have on hospital resiliency?
- What barriers, if any, exist to adopting and maintaining up-to-date codes in the CMS Conditions of Participation?
- What other actions is CMS undertaking to support health care systems and providers as they adapt to climate change?