NRDC Fights for Community Health and Access to Healthcare
Whether it’s fighting lead contaminated water, the effects of extreme heat, or industrial pollution, people living in communities on the frontlines for environmental threats also disproportionately lack access to the healthcare we all need. And, right now, lawmakers are considering legislation that would push critical medical care even further out of reach of those who need it most, by repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Today, NRDC, with Alaska Wilderness League, Green For All, Green Latinos, League of Conservation Voters, Oil Change International, Safe Climate Campaign, Sierra Club, and the Climate Reality Project sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to oppose the repeal of the ACA. We are standing together to hold lawmakers accountable for the health of all people across the country—and future generations—all of whom deserve a healthy environment and access to quality care, especially when sick. Access to healthcare and preventive services often makes the difference between environment-related conditions, like asthma, as a manageable chronic disease and one that sends scores of vulnerable children to the emergency room every year when pollution levels spike. The ACA is a critical tool in securing a healthy future for all.
While the health impacts of industrial pollution, environmental disasters, and climate change affect our society as a whole, low-income communities and people of color frequently bear the heaviest burdens. People who live in these communities, and especially women, face a greater risk of getting sick, losing livelihoods, living in poverty, and being displaced when weather and environmental disasters strike. People in frontline communities are also the least likely to have affordable access to the healthcare we all need to discover early warning signs of illnesses like those caused or exacerbated by environmental factors, or to get the treatments after illness has occurred.
Beyond efforts that would put affordable healthcare out of reach for millions, there is also an effort to defund Planned Parenthood, which is often the only healthcare provider available to low-income women across the country. We must preserve providers working within frontline communities who can get critical resources to those who need it most—like Planned Parenthood’s outreach to prevent the spread of Zika and water screening in Flint.
Repealing the ACA and the systematic defunding of Planned Parenthood would put millions of Americans at risk, and this burden would fall disproportionately on those already bearing more than their share of the health effects of pollution.