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The Root Cause Coalition Weekly Bulletin

This weekly bulletin is provided by The Root Cause Coalition to provide news and information on the social determinants of health, as well as a snapshot of the Coalition’s activities.

The Root Cause Coalition provides this weekly update to draw attention to our members’ social determinants of health (SDoH) activities, SDoH in the news and the ever-growing challenges faced by our most vulnerable communities. We encourage you to share SDoH-focused research, events and other resources with us so that we can promote it through our TRCC network. Our aim is to foster an exchange of information that is helpful to others so that those most in need - on whose behalf we work each day - can continue to receive information, access and services to improve health and quality of life.

If you have information to share, please email us:

TRCC News and Upcoming Events

The Root Cause Coalition has released its next Accelerated Response Brief (ARB), a synopsis of CommonSpirit Health’s innovative efforts to address health inequities exacerbated by Covid-19. This brief is part of a series that highlights TRCC members’ initiatives, programs and policies throughout the pandemic. Please click here to read insights from CommonSpirit’s Community and Homeless Health team.

We welcome additional submissions! TRCC members interested in being featured in a future ARB should contact Alex Lewin-Zwerdling at

The Root Cause Coalition is pleased to announce that the request for proposals (RFP) to present at the 6th National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health is now open. The virtual Summit will be held October 4-6, 2021. Last year’s virtual event brought together more than 650 representatives from healthcare, community and faith-based organizations, researchers, government leaders, educators and businesses to share best practices and resources, offer connections and engage in crucial discussions around social determinants of health (SDoH). Given the challenges of 2020 and the inequities that were laid bare, we encourage submissions that focus on how organizations and communities are addressing myriad issues, including how to address systemic racism, the ongoing effects of COVID – from a health and economic perspective and the myriad disparities that challenge so many each day.

We are inviting proposals for both featured speakers and breakout sessions and hope you consider joining us in October! If you are interested, please click here to view a PDF of the proposal questions and click here to officially submit your proposal by 11:59pm ET on March 15, 2021.

Social Determinants in the News

Research published in AIDS and Behavior shows the need to expand safety net services to address SDoH and minimize health disparities for low-income Black and Latino long-term HIV survivors. This study explores gaps in safety net programs and provides suggestions for how the National HIV/AIDS Strategy can serve as a model for COVID-19 strategies to address the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on marginalized communities.

Research conducted by the American Heart Association linked lifelong discrimination to hypertension in Black people. It is the first of its kind to look at multiple types of discrimination in a large multi-ethnic group over a period of time. Lifetime discrimination was measured as being denied promotion or having life made difficult by neighbors. The study followed 3,297 Black, Hispanic, Chinese and white adults from 45 to 84 years of age, for nearly two decades. At the conclusion of the study, “Almost half of participants developed high blood pressure. Black participants who reported lifetime discrimination had a 35% increased risk of hypertension, even after accounting for age, income, education, body mass index, physical activity and other factors.”

In a recently released issue brief, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) urges investments in SDoH by Medicaid managed care organizations. AHIP recommends expanding Medicaid managed care organizations’ toolboxes for addressing SDoH through waiver flexibilities, creating channels for forming interdisciplinary or interagency waivers, counting SDoH interventions towards Medicaid plans’ medical loss ratios, increasing Medicaid programs’ intervention flexibilities and expanding managed care organizations’ involvement in pooled funding arrangements.

Researchers with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill present a groundwater allegory from the Racial Equity Institute to explore how leaders can leverage hospitals and ensure equitable access to health care and social services. Using this framework, the researchers explore how hospitals can advance health equity through policies and practices that embrace their role as anchor institutions within communities while addressing the groundwater conditions that most significantly impact community health.

This article published by Center for Health Care Strategies reviews the needs of individuals during who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The piece highlights how COVID-19 has exacerbated existing needs as well as created new challenges and includes plans to ramp up efforts to meet enrollees’ needs and the role of community partnerships in addressing these needs.

An issue brief published by Duke University’s Margolis Center for Health Policy and Milbank Memorial Fund reviews the current landscape of payment reform initiatives addressing SDoH. It looks specifically at policy implications as well as challenges and opportunities related to implementation, cross-sector partnerships and organizational competencies. The brief discusses the landscape of value-based purchasing (VBP) models addressing SDoH, how different payers address social determinants through VBP, geographic reach of social determinant innovation through VBP as well as model design, implementation and policy considerations for payers and providers.

SDOH Advocacy Update

Current updates on state and federal SDoH Advocacy. For further details about the bills listed here, and contact information for sponsors and cosponsors, please click the links in the headlines below.

Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal [D-MA] announced the creation of a Racial Equity Initiative (REI), the next phase of the Committee’s work to advance racial justice and address health and economic inequities in the US. The REI will be co-chaired by Representative Terri Sewell [D-AL], Representative Jimmy Gomez [D-CA] and Representative Steven Horsford [D-NV]. This working group provide guidance and recommendations to ensure that the policy proposals considered by the Committee address the role of racism and discrimination in perpetuating inequalities. The creation of the REI builds on a report and framework released earlier this year that focus on how the Committee plans to advance equity in this Congress and beyond.

Reintroduced by Representative Karen Bass [D-CA], this is a wide-ranging reform bill that responds to police brutality and the death of George Floyd in 2020. Among many measures, the bill prohibits racial and religious profiling, requires further training on discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement and requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. Similarly, it requires state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data that is disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, and age to identify and address demographic disparities. Additionally, the bill establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations with the goal of creating local commissions and task forces that help develop more equitable public safety approaches. The bill was voted on and passed in the House on Wednesday, March 3rd.

Introduced by Senator Jacky Rosen [D-NV], this bill creates a five-year pilot program that provides grant funding for continuing medical education programs at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics. These programs would broaden the skills of health care providers, expanding clinical capacity and improving access to care for patients in underserved areas. The bill is referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Introduced by Senator Robert Menendez [D-NJ], this bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop an action plan that addresses the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among racial and ethnic minorities, rural communities and other vulnerable populations. It establishes a grant program for contact tracing plans that address health disparities related to the pandemic; it also authorizes the development of public awareness campaigns about COVID-19 directed at communities who are disproportionately impacted. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Second Harvest Heartland, in partnership with Project Well, have launched a new study examining the impact of comprehensive dietary support on maternal and infant health outcomes. The research project will recruit Black and Indigenous women who are Blue Plus members with indicators linked to high-risk pregnancy and will provide up to seven months of nutrition benefits and services. Christine Reiten, Vice President of Medicaid at Blue Cross and Blue Shield stated that, “Pregnancy-related death and infant mortality rates are much higher among Black and Indigenous families, as compared to the white population. These inequities are rooted in systemic racism and disproportionate access to adequate prenatal care and nutrition. Collaborative programs like this allow us to work toward a common goal of providing more upstream, preventive care and increase access to resources all families should have.” This collaborative initiative is one of the first of its kind that creates a more holistic approach, leveraging capabilities of food banks and addressing racial and health inequities.

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