We were pleased to see this report from the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of the Harvard Law School. Food Is Medicine: Opportunities in Public and Private Health Care for Supporting Nutritional Counseling and Medically Tailored, Home-Delivered Meals discusses the significance of nutrition for patients with acute and chronic illnesses. The report also offers suggestions for how providers of medically tailored nutrition intervention services can work with public and private insurance systems. The authors note that “people with acute and chronic illnesses often have difficulty obtaining and preparing adequate food. Malnourished patients are twice as likely to be readmitted to a hospital within 15 days of discharge and have a much higher risk of death than patients who are well-nourished.”

And on the West Coast, “Food as Medicine: Prevention in the Era of Obamacare,” a presentation on June 19, 2014, at the Wellness Center at the Historic General Hospital in Los Angeles, highlighted how the Affordable Care Act is changing healthcare and described potential opportunities of engaging community organizations involved in healthy food initiatives. The implementation of the ACA will encourage health plans to reimburse preventative services, which will enable healthcare providers to treat the root causes of illness rather than simply chasing the symptoms. The panel also discussed how community health and food organizations can partner with community clinics and hospitals on healthy eating programs and help expand access to healthy food.

For more information about how nonprofit hospitals can meet ACA-mandated community benefit requirements by partnering with community organizations to improve access to healthy food, call FA director Marydale DeBor at 203-745-1796 or email Mdebor@freshadvantage.com.