Medicaid Is Rising to the Challenge To Address Food Insecurity

Millions of Americans struggle with limited access to healthy foods – a problem that has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In honor of National Nutrition Month, we looked at ways Medicaid managed care organizations are innovating to help address this growing challenge.

Nearly two-thirds of the more than 70 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid get their health care coverage through Medicaid managed care – a public-private partnership between state governments and health insurance providers to deliver Medicaid benefits. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Medicaid managed care organizations, including Modern Medicaid Alliance partners, have employed innovative solutions to help meet the shifting needs of a growing number of Americans.

In addition to facing increasing challenges like the risk of illness from COVID-19, social isolation, mental and behavioral health issues, and decreased access to care and services, many vulnerable individuals and communities are experiencing heightened levels of food insecurity. In fact, recent estimates show that nearly 1 in 4 households experienced food insecurity in 2020, up from just over 1 in 10 in 2019.

Food insecurity is often caused by two distinct but interconnected factors: lack of transportation and limited financial resources. Medicaid managed care organizations are attacking both of these factors head-on through new, innovative programs to support their members and communities.

Across the country, many managed care organizations are providing grants to partner organizations that work to secure food for individuals in need. Some managed care organizations are stepping in directly to secure resources for the most vulnerable by delivering food to families in need, and donating supplies to increase access to healthy food.

While combating overall food insecurity is vital, ensuring access to healthy food options and improving nutrition education add further complexity to this challenge. Medicaid managed care organizations are supporting efforts to educate individuals on proper nutrition and partnering with community groups to serve healthy meals to low-income families.

These efforts build on Medicaid managed care organizations’ critical work of supporting enrollees during the COVID-19 public health and economic crises. At a critical time when Medicaid’s safety net is proving more important than ever, Medicaid managed care organizations are doing their part to ensure the health and well-being of our most vulnerable populations.