President Biden Begins Approving Use Of Medicaid For Groceries

President Biden Begins Approving Use Of Medicaid For Groceries


With inflation causing food prices to soar, the Biden administration has decided to allow Medicaid recipients to use their benefits for groceries and nutritional counseling in select states. As originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the decision follows discussions surrounding policies related to “food as medicine” programs, and whether they can help reduce the cost of groceries and increase overall health.

The conversation is timely, as food prices continue to rise without a sign of slowing down. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current inflation figures, annual prices have increased by 10.3%, while the food-at-home index rose by 11.3%.

Medicaid is traditionally designated specifically for health coverage and administered by states based on federal standards. It covers millions of Americans, including those with low-income and people with disabilities. This new Medicaid-for-groceries initiative expands beyond the typical way food is used, which involved customizing medical-specific meals to patients who were recently hospitalized. Usually, patients are given vouchers that let them purchase fruits and vegetables.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons // The White House


As part of a bipartisan push by lawmakers, this nutrition-support program was created to help lower-income Americans access healthier foods more easily. There is some pushback though, with critics arguing that allowing people to use Medicaid benefits for food is unnecessary since the government already provides food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Gary D. Alexander, head of the Medicaid and Health Safety Net Initiative for Paragon Health Institute, told the WSJ, “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. It seems like it’s blurring the lines.”

Others support the push, like Sen. Roger Marshall (R., Kan.), who shared, “There needs to be a bigger emphasis on how do we start encouraging people to make good healthy choices. And that budget-wise is going to save us money in the long term.” The senator has backed bipartisan legislation to establish a medically tailored meals pilot program under Medicare.

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