Benefits Data Trust and the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care to evaluate new model to improve health outcomes for older adults and adults with disabilities

Philadelphia, PA, November 19, 2019Benefits Data Trust (BDT) received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation‘s Systems for Action (S4A) program to work with the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care to evaluate health and cost outcomes when an insurance plan pays for its members in Pennsylvania to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This evaluation offers a novel opportunity to test the possible impact a health insurer can make in supporting non-medical interventions that address social determinants of health such as food insecurity.

An estimated 55 percent of eligible older Pennsylvanians are not enrolled in SNAP. BDT is working with UPMC Health Plan to increase SNAP enrollment for persons receiving care through the Community Health Choices (CHC) program. UPMC Health Plan members enrolled in the CHC program, which focuses on members who have a disability or are dual-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, will receive help navigating the SNAP enrollment process through targeted outreach and phone-based eligibility screening and application assistance.

“We know that increasing access to food through SNAP improves health and lowers healthcare costs, but we need more evidence to make the case that individual managed care organizations and health plans should take action,” said Trooper Sanders, CEO of BDT. “That’s why we’re excited to work with the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care to assess whether it’s both cost-effective and practical for health plans to invest in enrolling their members in SNAP.”

The UPMC Center for High–Value Health Care, which focuses on evidence-based practice and policy change for improving health care quality and efficiency, will lead a rigorous evaluation to assess the effect of increasing SNAP enrollment among plan members on healthcare utilization and costs.The study will break new ground by assessing the impact of a targeted outreach strategy using healthcare quality and utilization data from an individual health plan.

“UPMC is committed to providing holistic, high-quality, value-driven care for all our members,” said John Lovelace, president of government programs at UPMC Health Plan. “This initiative has the potential to help us better understand how we can address a range of patients’ needs that impact their health, especially food insecurity and other social determinants of health.”

This innovative research will generate new evidence to help decision makers at health plans across the country assess and potentially replicate this promising strategy to address the social determinants that affect the quality of life and health of their members.

About Benefits Data Trust

Benefits Data Trust (BDT) is a national nonprofit that helps people live healthier, more independent lives by creating smarter ways to access essential benefits and services. Each year, BDT helps tens of thousands of people receive critical supports using data, technology, targeted outreach, and policy change. Since inception in 2005, BDT has screened more than one million households and secured over $7 billion in benefits and services. BDT employs more than 170 people and provides enrollment assistance to individuals in six states and policy assistance to states nationwide. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @BeneDataTrust.

About the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care

The UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care, housed within the UPMC Insurance Services Division, translates the work of the UPMC Health Plan, Community Care Behavioral Health, and the organization’s additional integrated partner organizations into evidence-based practice and policy change for improving health care quality and efficiency and the overall health of the population. Many activities are conducted in UPMC’s unique payer-provider laboratory and supported through grants and contracts carried out in partnership with community organizations and government agencies. UPMC is a global health enterprise and one of the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery and financing systems. UPMC and its Insurance Services Division recognize and embrace the value of collaboration in achieving an equitable, high-quality, and efficient health care system that meets the needs of diverse populations. For more information, visit