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SNAP enrollees have better health management, report finds

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A new report shows seniors who qualify for Medicaid and are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, fare better with their health management than those who are not.

“Although they qualify, 49 percent of seniors on Medicaid are not enrolled in SNAP,” according to the study, produced by a partnership of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, Benefits Data Trust, The Hilltop Institute at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Human Services.

The study says that access to SNAP reduced a senior’s likelihood of admission into hospital by 14 percent and nursing home by 23 percent, and enrollment in SNAP saves about $2,100 in annual health care costs per senior.

Specifically, increasing the allotment of SNAP benefits by $10 per month, seniors enrolled in SNAP were less likely to be hospitalized or have an emergency room visit compared to their non-SNAP enrolled peers. This would then translate into a reduction of Medicaid costs on health care visits for the seniors.

On average, according to the study, giving SNAP to non-SNAP participants in a sample group from 2012 could have saved $34 million on nursing home spending and $19 million on inpatient hospital spending.

The study suggested that policyholders use the information to encourage greater investment into SNAP at the federal level.

On the state level, states can request federal waivers to reduce SNAP enrollment barriers, as well as create an entity to keep eligible seniors enrolled.

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