• Friday, 19 July 2019

California's Food Is Medicine Pilot Project Delivers Encouraging First-Year Observations


Jul 12, 2019 (7 days ago) |
SAN FRANCISCO: The California Food Is Medicine Coalition reports that preliminary observations of a state-funded Medically Tailored Meals pilot project align with the goal of using food and nutrition therapy to improve the health of low-income Californians living with chronic illnesses, and heart failure in particular.
Heart failure is a substantial burden on the US healthcare system, affecting 5.7 million Americans at an annual cost of $30.7 billion.1 Of these costs, 68% are attributed to direct medical expenditures, a large portion because of hospitalizations for decompensated heart failure.

The three-year, $6 million project targets Medi-Cal (Medicaid) patients who suffer from ongoing congestive heart failure and provides 12 weeks of meals at no charge that adhere to evidence-based nutrition guidelines. During the Medically Tailored Meal Intervention, a registered dietitian administers a CalFIMC-approved nutrition education curriculum, in-home, virtual, and telephonic nutrition education, wellness checks, and an assessment of program participants.

Paul Hepfer, chief executive officer of lead pilot agency Project Open Hand stated, Early insights are consistent with what Project Open Hand has demonstrated in our earliest evidence-based research studies; medical nutrition interventions improve health outcomes for our patients and will decrease re-admission rates and hospitalization costs for high utilizers of health care services.

Richard Ayoub, chair of CalFIMC and executive director of Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, explains the program concluded its first 12 months April 30, 2019. Participants who completed the program during its first year reported hospital re-admission rates consistent with reduced re-admission rates of similar intervention programs across the country.

CalFIMC is comprised of six community-based non-profit organizations Project Open Hand in San Francisco, Ceres Community Project and Food For Thought in the San Francisco North Bay area, The Health Trust in San Jose, Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, and Mama's Kitchen in San Diego. Each organization is implementing the pilot in its local area.

CalFIMC is part of a national movement to employ medically tailored nutrition and food interventions as a way to improve health outcomes, decrease hospitalizations, and impact healthcare costs. A study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine adds to a growing body of evidence tying medically tailored meals to reduced healthcare utilization.

Funded through California Senate Bill (SB) 97, the program allocates $6 million dollars to the CalFIMC pilot project over a three-year period culminating in 2021. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) oversees and will evaluate final results.

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California's Food Is Medicine Pilot Project Delivers Encouraging First-Year Observations

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