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New Guidance from CMS Supports Increased Access to Health-related Social Needs Services

November 29, 2023 – New guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Children’s Health Insurance Program supports state efforts to help enrollees in both Medicaid and CHIP access health care services by addressing unmet health-related social needs. CMS aims to provide states with multiple pathways to address health-related social needs, which will allow states the flexibilities needed to cover evidence-based services and medically appropriate services, as well as the ability to define targeted populations based on either clinical or social needs.

CMS stated that health-related social needs services are intended to supplement and not supplant existing local, state or federal supports. In addition, the CMS Framework for Health Equity provides guidance for eligible health-related social needs services, including nutrition-related interventions. Specifically, nutrition and food insecurity needs will be addressed through case management, such as food- and nutrition-related outreach and education, nutrition counseling, home delivered meals, pantry stocking, medically tailored meals, produce prescriptions and food pharmacies, as well as grocery provisions.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes and supports the importance of the recent guidance issued by CMS, which underscores the critical role of Medicaid and CHIP programs in addressing health-related social needs. This new guidance aligns with the Academy’s efforts to ensure equitable access to essential services for adequate food, nutrition and quality care. Identifying and assessing social determinants of health can significantly impact health outcomes by allowing for the delivery of effective services, which remains a cornerstone in preventing and treating illnesses while enhancing health outcomes across the various life stages. By engaging in these opportunities, registered dietitian nutritionists can play a vital role in mitigating health disparities linked to social determinants of health.

The Academy remains steadfast in its commitment to advocating for policies and initiatives that prioritize addressing health-related social needs and positively affecting food and nutrition insecurity to enhance the health and well-being of all individuals.

Visit the website to read the full CMCS Information Bulletin.

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