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Clean Air Act Rules Will Save U.S. $82 Billion on Health Care

The Clean Air Act was originally designed to save lives, protect public health and safeguard the environment – and it has been a clear success story on those fronts.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own analyses show that Clean Air Act rules yield hundreds of billions of dollars in economic benefits. These include the value of avoided premature mortality, negative health impacts, lost worker productivity due to illness, and environmental improvements such as increased visibility and agricultural productivity.

Now EDF and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) have released a new report that takes a closer look at one segment of those benefits.

Our new analysis [PDF] finds that four major rules of the Clean Air Act will yield more than $82 billion in Medicare, Medicaid and other health care savings for America through 2021.

The report is called Saving Lives and Reducing Health Care Costs: How Clean Air Rules Benefit the Nation [PDF].

It looks at four new rules recently proposed or finalized by EPA:

Those four rules are expected to lower emissions rates of a number of air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, dioxins, acid gases, smog, and soot.

Reducing levels of those dangerous substances will, in turn, reduce rates of premature mortality, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, respiratory hospital admissions, and emergency room visits related to asthma.

That, in turn, will result in health care savings of $82 billion, including;

  • $44.6 billion in Medicare and federal-level health care savings
  • $2.8 billion in state-level Medicaid and other state and local savings
  • $8.3 billion in out-of-pocket individual savings
  • $24.7 billion in private insurance savings

Our report is one more piece of evidence that clean air rules are a good investment for America. We can save lives, protect public health, and save billions of taxpayer dollars that are currently being spent by programs like Medicare to treat pollution-related illnesses.

Our report also shows that the polluter-led attempts to roll back clean air rules would not reduce costs, but rather shift costs from polluters onto the American people.

Our new report also includes a second analysis of health care savings expected from the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, which finds implementation of these programs could yield over $612 billion between 2000 and 2020 in reduced Medicare, Medicaid, out-of-pocket and private insurance spending.

You can read the full report here [PDF].

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