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Physicians: Cuts to Food Stamps Lead to Higher Medical Costs

Healthy Foods within Reach with SNAP
Healthy Foods within Reach with SNAP

It never ceases to amaze me, how we keep trying to solve our budget problems by cutting aid to the most vulnerable members of our population, be it the disabled, the poor or the elderly. Not only does it make us increasingly one of the more un-civilized nations among civilized societies, it also is a foolish endeavor that ironically will increase our budget deficit, and is thus counter-productive.

There are many ways to reduce the number of people currently receiving food stamps. One way I'll mention is by increasing the minimum wage, since 60% of those receiving food stamps do work but mostly in minimum wage jobs. This 60% refers to those who are "expected" to work -- that excludes children, the elderly and the disabled.

Leaving that aside, a recent study by Dr. Hilary Seligman at the University of California, shows that cutting food aid could backfire through higher Medicaid and Medicare costs for diabetes complications like hypoglycemia:

Among patients from low-income neighborhoods, hospitalizations were 27 percent higher in the last week of the month compared with the first, when most states send out government checks and food stamps, said lead researcher Dr. Hilary Seligman of the University of California, San Francisco. But hospitalizations didn't increase among diabetics from higher-income areas, she reported Tuesday in the journal Health Affairs.

Last year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, estimated that:

A cut of 2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger an increase of $15 billion in medical costs for diabetes over the next decade.

Another deplorable fact is that cutting food stamps affects 900,000 veterans nationwide, who rely on SNAP to feed their families:

109,500 veterans in Florida and 105,700 in Texas are in the SNAP program according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

And to put things in perspective, the average household benefit is a measly $270. It's the least we can do to help out those who need our help. Too much misinformation abounds, it's our duty to protect the most vulnerable amongst us.

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