In July 2019, a group of Bay Area organizations identified a common goal of shifting healthy food interventions from being supported by philanthropy to being standard covered health insurance benefits. Based on this shared goal, we formed a coalition advocating for California’s Medicaid System, Medi-Cal, to pay for medically supportive food and nutrition services. This spectrum of services include interventions such as Medically Tailored Meals, Produce Prescriptions, Food Pharmacies, and Healthy Food Vouchers designed to prevent, reverse, and manage certain health conditions.
One way to move from philanthropically funded interventions to covered benefits is through Medicaid waivers which allow the state to further pilot and study medically supportive food and nutrition programs using public health care funding.
California Advancing and Innovating Medical (CalAIM), represents the California Department of Health Care Service’s comprehensive waiver proposal meant to take effect January 2022. Our coalition submitted public comment with more than 95 additional organizations urging the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to include medically supportive food and nutrition into the state’s waiver application. On January 8, 2021 DHCS released their draft waiver application which included medically supportive food and nutrition. This exciting development is a critical first step to implementing medically supportive food interventions across California.
If this inclusion is approved in the final waiver application and adopted by local health plans California will join Massachusetts, North Carolina and Oregon, in providing medically supportive food to eligible Medicaid recipients. These interventions improve health care outcomes, reduce health care costs and mitigate health disparities.
View our position paper for a detailed explanation of the opportunity and our proposal to the Department of Health Care Services.
View our infographic for more information on the health impacts and cost savings associated with these interventions.
This project is made possible through the generous support of the Hellman Foundation Fund and the Stupski Foundation.
Staff Leads: Katie Ettman, Food and Agriculture Senior Policy Manager, [email protected], and Paloma Sisneros-Lobato, Food and Agriculture Policy Manager, [email protected]