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.”
As they strive to prove they are benefiting communities under the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals may become the latest battleground between fast-food purveyors and advocates of healthy—and preferably locally produced—cuisine.
“I am looking for opportunities for you to be the doctors to the world,” said Marydale DeBor, a former Connecticut hospital executive, at the convention for the National Farmers Union last month in Springfield, Mass.
Hospitals have long been a culinary joke, serving unappetizing food of questionable nutritional value to patients while selling fast food that is even more questionable in their cafeterias. Medical-school critics have chastised physicians for prescribing to patients costly drugs to deal with the effects of diseases that arise from bad diets and lack of exercise rather than feeding them healthy food and teaching them to eat better when they leave the hospital.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Hospitals around the country should become new markets for farmers to provide healthy, often locally-produced food to comply with their legal requirements under the Affordable Care Act, a prominent health care consultant told the National Farmers Union at its annual convention here this week.
“Hospitals have to demonstrate to the Internal Revenue Service that they are investing dollars into the community that justifies their nonprofit status. This is a time to become engaged as a community advocate for food and what impact it has on the community,” said Marydale DeBor, a former Connecticut hospital executive who now runs a New Haven consulting business called Fresh Advantage.
“I am looking for opportunities for you to be the doctors to the world,” DeBor said.
For the first time in its 111 year history the National Farmers Union will hold its convention in New England and Fresh Advantage’s Marydale DeBor is pleased attend as a member of the New England Farmers Union board of directors and delegate to the national convention.
Marydale will present at a breakout session called “Scaling up to Meet Demand” which will look at how farmers can grow to meet the demand for local foods by expanding and by working with fellow family farmers through cooperatives and other organizations.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will compel hospitals to promote population health in the communities they serve. Practicing prevention and keeping the general population served healthy will be a necessity as new payment models are adopted by third-party payers and pressure increases to control per capita costs. In addition, specific mandates tied to reimbursement include reducing patient re-admissions within 30 days of discharge.
PPACA also affects health-care sector employers: incentives exist within the new law for wellness programs that can keep an institution’s workforce healthier and more productive while reducing costs.
VIDEO & PODCAST LIBRARY
Recovery is Cooking
From Connecticut Mental Health Center
Plow to Plate
Before Fresh Advantage, Marydale co-founded Plow to Plate. Hear about their successes on All Things Connecticut
Prescribing Food, Part 1: Making Hospitals Healthier
From Heritage Radio Network
Women Addressing Food In Healthcare
From the Yale Sustainable Food Project Podcast