The Biden Administration unveiled a five-point plan to address hunger, nutrition and health Sept. 27. The White House wants Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers to play a role in solving food insecurity and food related illness. Here are five things to know about the proposal:
- The Biden administration supports legislation to pilot food-as-medicine Medicare programs. Food-as-medicine, including medically-tailored meals and produce prescriptions, have been tested in Medicaid programs. The administration plans to expand these Medicaid tests and supports legislation to bring this coverage to traditional Medicare.
- The White House wants to see Medicaid and Medicare coverage of nutrition and obesity counseling. Medicaid covers these services in many, but not all, states. These services are only covered for Medicare beneficiaries with certain conditions.
- Federal healthcare systems will universally screen for food insecurity. The Veterans Administration has a universal food insecurity screening policy in place, which will be expanded to other facilities. CMS will also look into incorporating quality measures relating to screening for social needs as part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program and Medicare Advantage Star Ratings.
- The White House will incentivize payers and providers to screen for food insecurity. This could include adding new procedure codes to capture screening for social determinants of health and expanding Medicare supplemental benefits for food and nutrition.
- The initiative to reduce food insecurity includes strategies to increase food affordability, physical activity and research. The White House plan includes goals to expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility, reduce sodium and sugar consumption, invest in parks and outdoor spaces for physical activity and bolster funding for food insecurity and nutrition research.