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U.S. Begins Allowing Medicaid Money to Be Spent on Food

Gary Alexander
Director Medicaid and Health Safety Net Reform InitiativeatParagon Health Institute

A nationally recognized health services expert and government reformer, Gary D. Alexander is head of the Medicaid and Health Safety Net Initiative at the Paragon Health Institute.

Stephanie Armour

Kristina Peterson

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Paragon’s Gary Alexander was quoted in The Wall Street Journal in their story U.S. Begins Allowing Medicaid Money to Be Spent on Food. The story talks about the Biden administration’s efforts to expand the definition of “health care” to include food and air conditioning.

From the story:

“This is really the first I’ve seen the federal government push food and air conditioners and other things as allowable. We already have the SNAP program,” said Gary D. Alexander, head of the Medicaid and Health Safety Net Initiative for Paragon Health Institute. “It seems like it’s blurring the lines,” he said.

More form the article:

The Biden administration has started approving state requests to use Medicaid to pay for groceries and nutritional counseling as policy makers explore whether “food as medicine” programs can lead to broad health benefits and trim costs.

A growing body of research suggests that addressing food insecurity can improve health as well as deliver savings by reducing medical visits, the need for medication, or by helping control serious illness. The programs have also appealed to some GOP lawmakers who believe states should have more control over their Medicaid programs. 

“This is something that is building momentum,” said Rachel Nuzum, senior vice president for federal and state health policy at the Commonwealth Fund, a national healthcare philanthropy. 

The full article can be found in The Wall Street Journal.

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