NIHCM Newsletter / May 2023

Disparities in Food Insecurity

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CDC Brief - “Adults Living in Families Experiencing Food Insecurity in the Past 30 Days: United States, 2021," Weeks, Julie D.; Mykyta, Laryssa; Madans, Jennifer H; National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.), 04/20/2023, Data brief; no. 465.

Food Insecurity: Disparities & SNAP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a data brief sharing that in 2021, 5.9% of adults in the United States lived in families that experienced food insecurity within the past 30 days. The report highlights the prevalence of food insecurity by sociodemographic characteristics, an issue that disproportionately affects marginalized communities. According to a recent study from the University of Southern California, rates of food insecurity in the US may be significantly higher than surveys during the pandemic suggested.

  • SNAP: Extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pandemic-related benefits helped lower levels of food insecurity. However, around 32 million people received less governmental food assistance when the supplemental benefits ended March 1, 2023.
  • Senior & Child Hunger: The annual senior hunger report from Feeding America shows that 5.5 million seniors experienced food insecurity in 2021. Additionally, schools report that children are hungry, as food prices rise and pandemic programs have come to an end.

Resources & Initiatives:


May 10, 2023. Updated on: May 18, 2023.

The State of Our Children’s Health

Maternal Mental Health

Mental health conditions during pregnancy or in the year after the birth affect almost one in five women, yet less than 20 percent were screened during both pregnancy and the postpartum period. These conditions, including suicide and substance use, are among the leading underlying causes of pregnancy-related death, contributing to the continuing maternal mortality crisis.

  • Working Mothers: The impact of mental health conditions on mothers extends beyond the postpartum period. Nearly half of working mothers surveyed have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression.
  • Postpartum Care: The COVID-19 pandemic decreased already low rates of postpartum visit attendance and exacerbated disparities by race, ethnicity, age, and insurance.

Resources & Initiatives:

  • The 988 Lifeline offers 24/7, confidential support to women.
  • A recent Fortune article provides strategies to help alleviate the mental burden of working parents.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is working to reduce the stigma of postpartum depression and sharing resources to help access treatment.
  • A recent episode of CBS News’ 60 Minutes explored efforts to address the maternal health crisis in Louisiana.
  • Today’s Congressional Briefing hosted by the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health will unveil new maternal mental health state report cards.

Health Care Spending & Shortages

Health care spending in the US remains high and is one of the lead drivers of the country's debt. Compared to other high-income countries, the US spends far more on health care spending but has the worst health outcomes. Additionally, the US is coping with challenges in the workforce and access to care:

  • Nursing: A recent survey shows that many nurses are considering quitting their jobs, with only 15% of nurses employed in hospitals planning on staying in their current place of employment. Nurses’ workload increased during the pandemic, leaving many burned out.
  • Rural Health: Residents of rural areas have reduced access to health care services. Recruiting doctors and other professionals is a challenge in these areas, Leading to limited access in dental care and nursing home closures.

Resources & Initiatives:

  • To address rising health care costs, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has proposed measures that would reduce expenditures by approximately $767 billion over 10 years.
  • Health Affairs shares recommendations from 21 health care experts on how to address health care spending.
  • Health systems are leaning on foreign and out-of-state health care workers to ease shortages.

Medicaid Unwinding

As of April 1, 2023, several states resumed disenrolling people from Medicaid, leading to concerns over coverage loss. During the period of continuous enrollment (February 2020 - March 2023), the uninsured rate in the US dropped to the lowest level ever recorded. States are granted up to a year to begin Medicaid eligibility checks, with Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, and South Dakota resuming redetermination almost immediately; more states are set to follow this month.

  • Coverage Loss: The federal government projects that nearly 17.4% of enrollees, or 15 million people, will lose Medicaid coverage. Among children and young adults who will lose coverage, a disproportionate number are estimated to be Latino (4.6 million) or Black (2.2 million), with Pacific Islanders also vulnerable to losing coverage.
  • Expanding Medicaid Coverage: The Medicaid Reentry Act was recently introduced to provide Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals in their last month of sentencing. This proposed act aims to address overdose deaths as individuals reentering society are more than 129 times as likely to die from a drug overdose within the first two weeks of being released compared to the general public.

Resources & Initiatives:

  • Elevance Health has launched two initiatives in an effort to ease the redetermination process, including a web platform that recommends what type of coverage individuals may qualify for.
  • CNN outlines what individuals can do if they lose Medicaid coverage.
  • Learn more about state timelines for unwinding and best practices for states to inform, educate, and help beneficiaries.

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