The Huffington Post featured Project Angel Food and L.A. Care CEO John Baackes in "California Becomes The First State To Prescribe Food As Medicine". The article talks about California's six million dollar pilot project that will deliver medically tailored meals to 1,000 Medi-Cal patients with congestive heart failure — a patient group that has one of the highest rates of hospital readmissions within 30 days.
John Baackes told the Huffington Post that this project "is the investment the movement needed to mount a national case for food as a component of health care." He sees the state’s pilot program as one small step in the direction of re-imagining medical care to include social services that affect health, from housing to food security.
We’re very anxious to see a program like this lead to policy changes.
CEO, L.A. Care
The article provided background on the success of such a program, citing the efforts of the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) in Philadelphia. Published research into MANNA’s work showed their meal deliveries had an impact on patient quality of life and also major reductions in hospital costs.
Researchers found that recipients of these free meals had average monthly medical costs that were 55 percent lower than a control group of Medicaid patients who didn’t get delivered meals. Hospital admission and duration rates were also significantly lower. People who received meals from MANNA and were later hospitalized were 23 percent more likely to be discharged back to their homes as opposed to a long-term care or rehabilitation facility when compared to the control group.
While the state provided $6 million in funding for the meals, L.A. Care awarded a grant of $150,000 to Project Angel Food for the purchase of a refrigerated delivery van and the hiring of a driver and a registered dietician. For more information about the program, view L.A. Care's Food is Medicine press release.
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.