Biden Administration Gives States Green Light to Use Medicaid Funds for “Food as Medicine
The Biden administration has recently given state governments the green light to use Medicaid to pay for groceries and nutritional counseling. This is part of an ideology called “food as medicine”, which suggests that if insurance covers costs for fruits, vegetables and dietary plans, then people will become more healthy and reduce the number of medical visits. Medicaid's insurance plan now includes coverage for the “produce prescription”.
The federal government is allowing states to let Medicaid funds be spent on certain food programs. The Biden administration is currently approving plans from several states which would let Medicaid recipients who meet certain qualifications to purchase healthy foods or enroll in certain nutrition programs.
Critics argue that expanding Medicaid to pay for food is unnecessary and redundant, as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, already helps disadvantaged people buy groceries. Opponents of the program see it as redundant, considering the government already provides funding for food for low-income families through the SNAP and WIC programs.
However, the new initiative is also coming at a time when those programs are anticipating cuts. Utilizing Medicaid funds to help fill the gap of SNAP benefits for low-income households might reduce the expected deficit.
Studies have indicated that addressing food insecurity can lead to improved health and financial savings due to a decrease in medical visits, medications, and the control of serious illnesses. Some Republican legislators have been drawn to these programs because they think states should be given more power when it comes to administering their Medicaid programs.
Republican Representative Glenn Thompson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is skeptical of the “food as medicine” approach but told the Journal he is willing to explore the idea. The Biden administration has an ambitious plan to battle food insecurity and diet-related health problems in the United States, having set a goal of “ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity by 2030.”
The idea behind the “food as medicine” is that if people are able to access high-quality food, overall health will improve and visits to doctors and hospitals will decline. According to a Tufts University study, providing medically tailored meals to Medicare and Medicaid recipients could save the programs $13.6 billion per year after the costs of food.
The Biden administration’s goal to reduce medical visits and promote preventative health measures through the use of Medicaid funds is a move that has garnered bipartisan support.
0. “Biden administration is approving requests for Medicaid to cover food costs” Straight Arrow News, 13 Feb. 2023, https://straightarrownews.com/cc/biden-administration-is-approving-requests-for-medicaid-to-cover-food-costs
1. “Medicaid Funds Can Now Be Spent On Groceries In The US” Tasting Table, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.tastingtable.com/1198285/medicaid-funds-can-now-be-spent-on-groceries-in-the-us/
2. “U.S. Begins Allowing Medicaid Money to Be Spent on Food” The Wall Street Journal, 12 Feb. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-begins-allowing-medicaid-money-to-be-spent-on-food-62f78cac
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