Swapping health care for people to get health care for forests
Photo: Daniel Kulinski via Flickr If we want carbon-sequestering forests to be the picture of health, perhaps we’ve been barking up the wrong tree. About 60 percent of U.S. forest land is privately owned — and often by people who like to keep it in the family. But when towering medical costs fall in those woods, the timber owners hear it loud and clear — and are then more likely to swallow the bitter pill of selling off the family land to pay the bills.
This news came out of a recent survey of timber owners and their heirs by the Pinchot Institute, a conservation think tank, in an attempt to keep the forests for the trees — and not for the medical treatment.
While money doesn’t grow on trees, the idea is that maybe health care can. The Pinchot Institute and health insurance company Regence BlueCross BlueShield are partnering to create a voluntary program that would allow families with forestland to receive funding to cover health costs — while keeping their woods wooded. Part of this may eventually involve carbon traders investing directly in health care services for private timber owners. Forest-rich Oregon and Washington are the most likely states to go out on a limb and see if this initiative gets a clean bill of health. If so, this would be quite the health care reform.
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