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By Lily Byars

Since its inception in 1965, Medicaid has focused on healthcare treatment, prevention, and management. As a joint program between the state and federal government, Medicaid provides healthcare coverage for a large and diverse population including children, adults, the elderly, and some active-duty military families. Medicaid eligibility is based on income and health status.

Recently, Medicaid has emphasized the importance of identifying and addressing the underlying social determinants of health (SDOH). The social determinants of health focus on the social, economic, and environmental factors that affect one’s health status and outcomes. Common examples include housing, access to services, as well as food and nutrition (U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS], 2022a, 2022b). Addressing social determinants of health through Medicaid coverage may lower health costs, improve health outcomes, and increase cost-effective healthcare services and interventions (CMS, 2022b).

Medicaid, Food Security, & Social Determinants of Health & Well-Being

In a recent OneOp webinar, we examined new Medicaid-related efforts to address food and nutrition security. These efforts include providing medically tailored meals for those with certain health conditions and nutritional counseling to help individuals make healthy food choices. Some of these efforts are being carried out through Medicaid demonstration waiver programs on a state-by-state basis.

For example, states such as Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Oregon are using demonstration waivers to address medically necessary housing and nutrition support services. Arkansas specifically focuses on nutritional support services for eligible veterans between the ages of 19 and 30 who may face challenges in transitioning from military to civilian life (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022).

Demonstration waivers and pilot programs may encourage wider adoption of SDOH-focused Medicaid initiatives across the U.S. in the years ahead. These types of Medicaid developments could be of special interest to those who are actively involved in military family readiness and those who work to connect military families to community-based resources.

See additional information below regarding demonstration waivers, as well as the social determinants of health.

Waivers are currently approved in your state:

Additional information regarding Social Determinates of Health (SDOH):

Examples of Medicaid Demonstration Waivers in action:

About the Author

Lilly Byars is a graduate assistant at West Virginia University and a part of the OneOp Military Caregiving Team