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NGA Asks White House To Address Lack Of Health Benefits

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The National Grocers Association sent a letter to White House officials asking for a convening of stakeholders to address the exclusion of independent grocers and their customers from important health benefit programs funded by health insurance plans.

The letter states, “Private health plans, including Medicare Advantage health plans, are increasingly issuing supplemental health benefit cards that allow policyholders to purchase healthy foods in grocery stores. Unfortunately, these restricted-spend cards are preventing these individuals from shopping where they choose and excluding the entire independent grocery segment from program delivery.”

Although consumer demand in health and wellness categories continues to boom, barriers such as cost and access pose challenges for shoppers. Supplemental health benefits are a solution to addressing costs, as well as bolstering preventive care and addressing chronic illness through nutrition incentives and healthy eating guidance. Despite the growth in these public-private programs, the benefits offered, which are typically distributed on a card, are not interoperable between retailers.

“NGA supports these types of programs as we understand the growing importance of healthy eating behaviors to prevent serious chronic diseases. But to date, independents have largely been cut out of these programs and are turning their customers away because they are denied technology needed to process these new benefits,” said the letter.

“The grocery retail industry is rapidly changing, from technology to new store formats and shifting consumer trends, but independent grocers are nimble enough to quickly adjust to such shifts, and with strong ties to their communities, they know what consumers want and need,” said Stephanie Johnson, NGA’s VP of government relations.

“Excluding independent grocers and their customers from supplemental health benefits harms their ability to compete against big box stores, and it negatively impacts the communities they serve. On behalf of the independent grocery sector, NGA is calling on the White House to convene a meeting of stakeholders to mediate a comprehensive solution between the various public-private partners.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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