Atrius Health recently provided testimony to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in support of “An Act Improving Public Health through a Common Application for Core Food, Health and Safety-net Programs.” The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Gap bill, HB1173 and SB678, would create a common application to allow low-income households to apply for MassHealth, SNAP, and state-administered safety net programs all at the same time.
An estimated 700,000 MassHealth recipients who are likely eligible for SNAP are not receiving this vital benefit due in part to the separate and duplicative application process for core benefits. MassHealth, SNAP, and several other safety-net programs use separate application processes that ask for similar information. Filling out different applications for each can be overwhelming and serve as a deterrent for these applicants to take advantage of these essential benefits. This duplicate effort creates more work for the state and many of our low-income patients as well as the social workers, case managers and others who are attempting to assist these patients with receiving vital food assistance.
Allowing low-income households to apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time will help close the “SNAP gap” and improve health for families across the Commonwealth. Food insecurity is an important social determinant of health which affects a wide variety of patients. Not having adequate nutrition increases the likelihood of conditions like asthma in children and limited mobility in seniors. In addition, we believe that not having access to healthy food contributes to increased healthcare costs and poor performance in schools and the workplace. Encouraging coordination between MassHealth and SNAP will vastly improve the delivery of services for eligible residents.
A shared application will streamline the process of receiving benefits, improve efficiency for the state, and facilitate access for more low-income residents to meet the basic needs of accessing food, healthcare, and housing. We believe this streamlined process is vital to provide for the basic needs of many of our patients. It is a commonsense, cost-effective approach that will improve efficiency, lower healthcare costs in the state, and improve the health of the residents of the Commonwealth.
Atrius Health is delighted to be part of a statewide coalition of organizations advocating in support of SB678 and HB1173 and urges the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing to report the bill out of Committee favorably as soon as possible.