OBJECTIVE

The 2018–2019 federal government partial shutdown resulted in a one-time disruption to the usual disbursement schedule of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits nationwide. We assessed the relationship between this disruption and hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia medical encounters among beneficiaries with diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

To estimate whether the one-time change in benefit disbursement affected the monthly cycle of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia encounter rates, we used linked administrative Medicaid claims and SNAP disbursement data from West Virginia in a fixed-effects model with interactions between week of the month and the two months of interest—January and February 2019. We controlled for week, month, year, and county effects as well as individual characteristics, and we clustered SEs by individual.

RESULTS

We found that the early disbursement of SNAP benefits in January 2019 resulted in a spike in hyperglycemia four times the rate in a typical month. Further, we found a decrease in both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in late February.

CONCLUSIONS

Our findings suggest that the early distribution of benefits led to a temporary increase in food consumption among West Virginia Medicaid beneficiaries with diabetes. Findings from late February also imply that individuals may have a way to prepare for reduced food resources. These results shed new light on the effects of unexpected changes to the timing of safety net payments as well as an understanding of unintended consequences of government shutdowns.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.19746955.

The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent any official U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. government, or state government determination or policy.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at https://www.diabetesjournals.org/journals/pages/license.
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