(NBC News) – The Trump administration wants to change how the federal government pays its portion of Medicaid. That could result in less money to community clinics that provide critical nutrition programs for children and families.
Community clinics around the country are encouraging patients to eat healthy by giving away fresh fruits and vegetables, food people can’t find or can’t afford in grocery stores.
The UMMA Community Clinic opened a South Los Angeles Market in September and has already doubled its patrons. About 100 people show up every Wednesday.
“Right now there’s an epidemic of obesity, and not having good food choices. So it just made sense,” says the clinic’s Dr. Glenda Leflore.
Markets and other nutrition programs like the UMMA market are possible because the Affordable Care Act brought more paying patients to community clinics. With Congress considering cuts to Medicaid, clinic leaders say programs like these could be the first to go.
“We’ll have to look at all these services and probably scale down right at a moment in time when people’s anxiety and needs are going up,” says UMMA Community Clinic CEO Dr. Miriam Vega.
At Eisner Health, doctors write fresh food prescriptions and low-income families get $600 a year in free vouchers to buy produce.
The program is working. Eisner says six in ten patients improved their health.
That program has private funding, but others that rely on money from Washington could be at risk.
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