With ‘Food as Medicine,’ States Want Medicaid MCOs to Show Results

Nutrition is a key social determinant of health (SDOH), and the Medicaid program increasingly is an important conduit for connecting beneficiaries with healthy foods. According to state Medicaid officials from Delaware and Nevada, and home care caterer Mom’s Meals, managed care organizations have a critical role to play — and a clear financial incentive — in improving their members’ nutrition.

Using health plan benefits to cover food as medicine — making sure that patients aren’t hungry and are eating a diet that does not exacerbate their chronic ailments — are a popular Medicare Advantage supplementary benefit, with nearly one-quarter of MA plans offering nutrition and dietary services. Medicaid plans are also increasingly viewing hunger and poor nutrition as a SDOH that can, if unaddressed, drive preventable care utilization.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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