Today @ MAND – June 2020

June 6th, 2020

SNAP & SNAP-Ed Updates for Massachusetts

By Amy Branham, MS, RD, LDN

This article offers a brief overview of recent programmatic changes in SNAP and SNAP-Ed in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program has instituted a number of changes to assist individuals and families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. To support these efforts, SNAP-Ed (SNAP Education) programs are modifying messaging and delivery methods to meet this needs while practicing social distancing.

Massachusetts is one of the first states nationwide to provide Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits to nearly 500,000 children who qualify for free- and- reduced price lunch. Pandemic EBT is a special food benefit funded under the federal Families First COVID-19 Act (March 2020). This benefit of $5.70 per day, per child will be available for all SNAP and non-SNAP households that qualify. Households in school districts that have implemented universal lunch will also receive this benefit. One card per eligible child is provided for by mail for families not receiving DTA benefits. Families currently receiving DTA benefits will get the funds on their existing EBT card. P-EBT is an added benefit and does not limit participation in school meal pick-ups or SNAP.

A reminder: SNAP is a mandatory spending program (like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) also known as an ‘entitlement’ program in congressional language. This means as the need goes up, the funding goes up. Any participation in the program does not take away benefits from someone else.

To support families and individuals, the SNAP program has made emergency SNAP available, suspended the time limit of SNAP benefits, provides online/app applications, and works with Project Bread to provide assistance in multiple languages. Please review the links below for more information.

The SNAP-Ed program has suspended all in-person educational events. At least two SNAP-Ed providers are modifying programs for digital delivery. Cooking Matters Massachusetts is offering “Stay Home with CookingMatters” 30 minutes sessions via Zoom. See https://www.mahealthyfoodsinasnap.org/ for more information and registration. The UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program offers the Nutrition Bites newsletter, which provides food safety, recipes, physical activity and food resource information. It can be found here https://ag.umass.edu/nutrition/nutrition-bites.

This article is not an extensive list of all the programmatic changes occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Please continue to refer to authoritative resources and those below for up-to-date information.

https://www.map-ebt.org/faqs

https://www.mahealthyfoodsinasnap.org/

http://www.projectbread.org/

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/pandemic-ebt-p-ebt

https://www.masslegalservices.org/DTA-COVID-19

https://www.mass.gov/dta-covid-19-resources-and-support

Amy Branham is employed as a SNAP-Ed Multi-Level Specialist with the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program.


Telehealth in the Headlines

Effective March 16th, to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order requiring health insurance plans in Massachusetts to reimburse providers for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person visits. In addition, the order allowed for non-secure videoconferencing services, such as FaceTime, as well as purely telephonic visits to be considered reimbursable telehealth services. 

During his May 7th press briefing, the governor spoke about the twenty-year history of telehealth in Massachusetts and underscored its importance, stating that the legislature needed to take action to ensure that telehealth is covered by all health insurance plans.

MAND continues to follow state legislation expanding access to telehealth services and will keep you updated. MAND works with the Academy at the national level to support their policy efforts to increase opportunities for reimbursement by Medicare. In recent months, in addition to working with CMS for Medicare reimbursement issues, the Academy has been reaching out to governors to encourage them to increase access to telehealth services provided by RDNs, including to loosen any restrictions placed on location of service delivery (e.g., in hospital outpatient clinics versus outpatient clinic versus private office or home).

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light many health- and health care-related inequities in the United States, and also has increased awareness of the need for new health care service delivery options. Lastly, and most importantly for the opportunities presented, the pandemic has shown the benefits of telehealth services.

Anyone looking for more information around telehealth, coding, billing and coverage for services should visit the Academy’s “Telehealth for RDNs Quick Start Guide” at https://www.eatrightpro.org/practice/practice-resources/telehealth#quickGuide and the Coronavirus Professional Resources Hub at https://www.eatrightpro.org/coronavirus-resources.

The Academy was also holding weekly Telehealth Office Hours in April and May, with some of the webinar recordings available at: https://www.eatrightpro.org/news-center/member-updates/coronavirus-updates/academy-telehealth-office-hours.

As a reminder, Medicare generally sets the standards for payment rates and as of May 2020 is reimbursing for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person visits. Although not necessarily true per Massachusetts law, per the governor’s executive order mandates that “carriers shall ensure that rates of payment to in-network providers for services delivered by telehealth are not lower than the rates of payment established by the Carrier for services delivered by traditional methods.” To those in private practice who have questions or concerns, the Academy suggests you review the “for providers” section of each company’s website to check the likely-evolving policies related to telehealth, including coding and billing policies and guidelines.

Please email Sarah Conca at sconca@live.com with any questions.

Sarah Conca, MPA, RDN, LDN is MAND’s Director of Public Policy. Sarah has worked supporting the education, engagement and advocacy work of MAND’s Public Policy Panel and Board of Directors for seven years.


Blog Deadline

Topic Consideration Deadline: Last day of each month

Approved Articles due by: 15th of the month

Please send all submissions to: Laura Kim and Sierra Parker, editors of Today@MAND: newsletter@eatrightma.org.

Any Academy member, no matter their state of residency, can select MAND as their affiliate association. We welcome members from all locations! MAND members who have chosen another affiliate state may inquire about how to become a Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Supporter Member and start receiving all MAND benefits by e-mailing MAND’s Administrative Director, Maureen Kelly Gonsalves, MEd, RD, at admin@eatrightma.org.

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – May 2020

May 8th, 2020

We Missed You in April March, April and May might be starting to blur together as dietitians and nutritionists take the front line with other healthcare workers to fight COVID-19. We hope everyone has remained safe and healthy during this time and has found sources of hope. Thank you for all you are doing! Supporting […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – March 2020

March 18th, 2020

MA Dietitians Education Foundation T-Shirt Fundraiser Buy a shirt (or two!) to help fund scholarships for future nutrition professionals. Visit https://www.customink.com/fundraising/MDEFscholarships to get your t-shirt(s). Massachusetts Dietitians Education Foundation (MDEF) is in dire need of donations to its scholarship fund in order to continue providing yearly scholarships to worthy nutrition students and professionals looking to […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – February 2020

February 17th, 2020

Part One: Plant Pigment Power of Phytonutrients and Vascular Health By Jody Bergeron, MS, RN Phytochemicals, also known as phytonutrients (phyto=plant) are plant based compounds with certain biological actions that sustain human health.  There are literally thousands of theses non-nutritive compounds that can potentially reduce the risk of chronic conditions.   Phytonutrients stimulate enzymes that assist […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – January 2020

January 17th, 2020

What is Allulose? By Hailey Crean, MS, RD, CDE, CSOWM In my practice, I encourage an all-foods-fit approach to nutrition and that includes sugar. And yes, even when managing diabetes. But, while some sugar fits, studies show most of us are eating way too much of it. In fact, the CDC estimates that between 2005 […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – December 2019

December 16th, 2019

Q&A session with Dan Coello for a feature on the BU Sargent Programs in Nutrition By Caroline Kohler Q: What is the most surprising/interesting thing you’ve learned in the DI? A: That people make mistakes in healthcare, and sometimes they can be pretty bad mistakes. While now it seems like common sense that people would […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – November 2019

November 19th, 2019

MAND BLOG National School Lunch Week: What’s On Your Playlist? Celebrated Across the Nation By Shennie Quintanilla, MS, RDN School lunch is not what it used to be in yesteryears. Districts across the nation are cooking scratch-made tasty meals, enhancing culinary skills, reducing food waste, and supporting local agriculture. School districts are hiring more and […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – October 2019

October 17th, 2019

What exactly does a HAT Trick in Hockey have to do with Sepsis Therapy? By Jody Bergeron, RN, BSN, MS, CEN Hydrocortisone Ascorbic Acid and Thiamine Sepsis is a physiologic, biologic and biochemical chaotic state reflecting a dysregulated inflammatory response to infection. Sepsis exists on a continuum of severity, ranging from infection and bacteremia to […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – September 2019

September 19th, 2019

Dinners in a Dash: Healthy Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes  By Joan Salge Blake, EdD, MS, RDN, FAND September is #FamilyMealsMonth and as the saying goes, what’s old is new and this applies to the lure of dining out regularly.  According to the latest survey from the Hartman Group and the Food Marketing Institute, […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Today @ MAND – August 2019

August 19th, 2019

Advocacy Summit  Hello fellow MAND members! This is Christina Ypsilantis, your President-Elect. I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics “Advocacy Summit” in DC this past July. As President-Elect, one of my roles is to help out with the Public Policy Panel (PPP). Within my first few weeks as President-Elect, […]

Posted by: Maureen Kelly Gonsalves

Comments (0)


Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting

We are sorry to say that ANCE has been postponed until September. More details to follow.

Public Policy

Public Policy

Do You Want to Make a Difference for Your Profession and Your Community?  Visit our Public Policy Section.