Matthew Lavallee, Sandro Galea, Nadia N. Abuelezam. 2023. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Emergency Allotments and Food Security, Hospitalizations, and Hospital Capacity JAMA Network Open.

IMPORTANCE: Understanding how social policies shape health is a national priority, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OBJECTIVE: To understand the association between politically motivated changes to Nebraska’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) policy and public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DESIGN, STUDY, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cross-sectional study used synthetic control methods to estimate the association of Nebraska’s decision to reject emergency allotments for the SNAP with food security and hospital capacity indicators. A counterfactual for Nebraska was created by weighting data from the rest of the US. State-level changes in Nebraska between March 2020 and March 2021 were included. Data were acquired from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey on individual food security and mental health indicators and from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on hospital-level capacity indicators. Data analysis occurred between October 2022 and June 2023.

INTERVENTION: The rejection of additional SNAP funds for low-income households in Nebraska from August to November 2020.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Food insecurity and inpatient bed use indicators (ie, inpatient beds filled, inpatient beds filled by patients with COVID-19, and inpatients with COVID-19).

RESULTS: The survey data of 1 591 006 respondents from May 2020 to November 2020 was analyzed, and 24 869 (1.56%) lived in Nebraska. Nebraska’s population was composed of proportionally more White individuals (mean [SD], 88.70% [0.29%] vs 78.28% [0.26%]; P < .001), fewer individuals who made more than $200 000 in 2019 (4.20% [0.45%] vs 5.22% [0.12%]; P < .001), and more households sized 1 to 3 (63.41% [2.29%] vs 61.13% [1.10%); P = .03) compared with other states. Nebraska’s rejection of additional funding for SNAP recipients was associated with increases in food insecurity (raw mean [SD] difference 1.61% [1.30%]; relative difference, 19.63%; P = .02), percentage of inpatient beds filled by patients with COVID-19 (raw mean [SD] difference, 0.19% [1.55%]; relative difference, 3.90%; P = .02), and percentage of inpatient beds filled (raw mean [SD] difference, 2.35% [1.82%]; relative difference, 4.10%; P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cross-sectional study, the association between social policy, food security, health, and public health resources was examined, and the rejection of emergency allotments in Nebraska was associated with increased food insecurity. Additionally, this intervention was associated with an increased rate of hospitalizations for COVID-19 and non–COVID-19 causes.


Jacob Wallace, Anthony Lollo, Kate A. Duchowny, Matthew Lavallee, Chima D. Ndumele. 2022. Disparities in Health Care Spending and Utilization Among Black and White Medicaid Enrollees JAMA Health Forum.

IMPORTANCE: Administrative records indicate that more than half of the 80 million Medicaid enrollees identify as belonging to a racial and ethnic minority group. Despite this, disparities within the Medicaid program remain understudied. For example, we know of no studies examining racial differences in Medicaid spending, a potential measure of how equitably state resources are allocated.

OBJECTIVES: To examine whether and to what extent there are differences in health care spending and utilization between Black and White enrollees in Medicaid.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cross-sectional study used calendar year 2016 administrative data from 3 state Medicaid programs and included 1 966 689 Black and White Medicaid enrollees. Analyses were performed between January 28, 2021, and October 18, 2021. EXPOSURES Self-reported race.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Rates and racial differences in health care spending and utilization (including Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set [HEDIS] access measures).

RESULTS: Of 1 966 689 Medicaid adults and children (mean [SD] age, 20.3 [17.1] years; 1 119 136 [56.9%] female), 867 183 (44.1%) self-identified as non-Hispanic Black and 1 099 506 (55.9%) selfidentified as non-Hispanic White. Results were adjusted for age, sex, Medicaid eligibility category, zip code, health status, and usual source of care. On average, annual spending on Black adult (19 years or older) Medicaid enrollees was $317 (95% CI, $259-$375) lower than White enrollees, a 6% difference. Among children (18 years or younger), annual spending on Black enrollees was $256 (14%) lower (95% CI, $222-$290). Adult Black enrollees also had 19.3 (95% CI, 16.78-21.84), or 4%, fewer primary care encounters per 100 enrollees per year compared with White enrollees. Among children, the differences in primary care utilization were larger: Black enrollees had 90.1 (95% CI, 88.2-91.8) fewer primary care encounters per 100 enrollees per year compared with White enrollees, a 23% difference. Black enrollees had lower utilization of most other services, including high-value prescription drugs, but higher emergency department use and rates of HEDIS preventive screenings.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cross-sectional study of US Medicaid enrollees in 3 states, Black enrollees generated lower spending and used fewer services, including primary care and recommended care for acute and chronic conditions, but had substantially higher emergency department use. While Black enrollees had higher rates of HEDIS preventive screenings, ensuring equitable access to all services in Medicaid must remain a national priority.

Work In Progress