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Tyrant Joe Biden: Medicaid Docs Must Now Prescribe Kale
Actually this is pretty freaking neat: Nutrition is health, so let's get people eating better.
The federal Medicaid program, which provides healthcare to millions of Americans — including more than a third of the nation's children — is moving to make it easier for states to use Medicaid funds to help people get healthy food. As the nonprofit food journalism outfit Civil Eats reports, this is one more direct result of that big White House Conference on Hunger, Health, and Nutrition earlier this year. The idea is to give states waivers that would allow doctors and nurses to refer people to resources that will improve their diets, and thereby their health, since diet is an especially important part of managing several diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
So far, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved waivers for Massachusetts, Oregon, and Arkansas, with more in the pipeline. In Massachusetts, healthcare professionals can refer folks to a nonprofit called "Project Bread," and someone from that group will call the patient to find out what will benefit the patient:
“We try to understand the range of barriers that are making it difficult for them to purchase, prepare, or store different, healthy foods,” explained Jennifer Obadia, Project Bread’s senior director of health care partnerships. Once the coordinators get a picture of an individual’s situation, they can send grocery store gift-cards and kitchen supplies or sign the patient up for cooking classes or nutrition counseling. They can even refer them to a service that will deliver “medically tailored meals.” Every three months, they check in on the patient.
In its first two years, the program served 5,000 patients, and a recent evaluation found that 25 percent were no longer food insecure after participating for six months.
We haven't run the numbers, but we're betting that Trump's 2017 Big Fat Tax Cuts for Rich Fuckwads never reduced food insecurity by anywhere close to that.
As Civil Eats notes, the new CMS effort to encourage states to roll out nutrition-as-health programs was spurred by the White House conference:
Within the goal of “integrat[ing] nutrition and health,” the administration identified expanding Medicaid participants’ access to food-as-medicine interventions as a key approach. And while some components require Congressional action to move forward and will likely take many years to roll out, CMS is moving with surprising speed to approve state Medicaid waivers that make progress toward that goal.
Along similar lines, the Department of Agriculture is rolling out a $59 million program that includes "produce prescriptions," which are not pharmaceutical fruits and veggies but actually coupons that docs can give patients for free produce to improve their diets.
The article goes on to discuss the growing interest in "food-as-medicine" efforts, sometimes also called "food-is-medicine" for that extra rhetorical oomph. A recent "Research Action Plan" from the Aspen Institute and Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation
summarized the research on three interventions: medically tailored meals, produce prescriptions, and medically tailored groceries—groceries designed to meet specific healthcare needs. [...]
Research on medically tailored meals is the most developed so far, they found, but all three interventions “are associated with reduced food insecurity, improved dietary intake, and improved participant mental health.”
The research also indicates that — as ever in Goddamned America — the greatest health disparities when it comes to nutrition are found among low-income Americans, especially people of color, who are less likely to have convenient access to fresh produce, and can we once again say "food deserts"?
Coordinators for Project Bread also check whether the people they help qualify for other programs that can benefit them, like SNAP or WIC, and if they're not already signed up, the coordinators help walk them through the application process.
[The] organization found that after six months in the program, SNAP participation among patients rose from 64 percent to 72 percent. Another surprising finding in the evaluation was that a major barrier—even for patients already receiving SNAP benefits—was having the right kitchen equipment to store food and prepare healthy meals. Eighty-two percent of patients surveyed requested basic supplies including pots and pans, plates and bowls, and cooking utensils. Nearly 10 percent didn’t have a refrigerator.
Mind you, if we start helping people get kitchen tools, we'll no doubt see the Heritage Foundation complain that in America, allegedly poor people not only have luxuries like refrigerators and color TVs, but even plates and mixing bowls made of actual ceramics, just like a fancy French monarch might.
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