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The Root Cause Coalition Weekly Bulletin

Monday, May 24, 2021 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. PLEASE NOTE: The Weekly Bulletin will not be published on Monday, May 31st, in observance of Memorial Day. The next publication date is Monday, June 7, 2021.

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

National Summit Registration Now Open! Register for TRCC’s 6th National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health! The National Summit will be held virtually October 4-6, 2021. Early bird registration goes through July 1st, 2021. Click here to register and learn more! COVID-19 has brought increased awareness of disparities among our nation’s minorities and most vulnerable. It is increasingly critical to understand the clear associations between social determinants and poor health status among children, adults and seniors. Factors such as systemic racism, food insecurity, lack of safe and affordable housing, quality education, transportation and isolation have a significant impact on individual health and the collective health of our nation. The agenda for this year’s National Summit will bring together representatives from healthcare, community and faith-based organizations, researchers, government leaders, educators and businesses to share best practices, offer community connections and resources and engage in the crucial discussion of how to best address the social determinants of health. The Root Cause Coalition Releases Its Latest Consumer Insights Research: Perceptions of COVID-19 on Health Equity and Social Determinants This research explores consumer sentiment, behavior and attitudes around COVID-19 and health equity, and the impact on individuals. The press release and full report are available here.

Social Determinants in the News

Webinar happening today, Monday, on maternal and child health in the United States

The Alliance to End Hunger and the Black Women's Health Imperative are hosting a panel discussion on ‘Investing in Maternal and Child Health in the United States’ on May 24th at 10 a.m. ET. The event will include an expert panel that will examine the current state of maternal and child health, and the strategies and policy levers needed to improve health outcomes in the U.S. Register now by clicking here.

Virginia launches nation’s first statewide health equity dashboards

Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled the nation’s first public statewide health equity dashboards created by the Virginia Health Equity Leadership Taskforce, Equity in Action and Equity at a Glance. The dashboards provide a snapshot of the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and make key data more accessible to the public. The equity dashboards are an effort to operationalize two new pieces of legislation, one that declared racism a public health crisis and another which requires Virginia’s Chief Diversity Officer to conduct statewide equity assessments.

Fauci says it is ‘undeniable’ that racism has made COVID-19 worse in US

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser and Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the 2021 graduating class of Emory University that racism and social determinants undeniably contributed to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color. Even as things begin to return to some sense of normal post-pandemic, Dr. Fauci urged graduating students to remember the lessons learned from this past year and find ways to engage in public service regardless of one’s career choice.

Will COVID Force Public Health Equity to Confront America's Epic Inequality?

This article outlines the history of SDoH, the evolution of the term among public health and policy officials and historical hesitancy around making substantive SDoH policy recommendations. The author uses the San Joaquin Valley, where hundreds of thousands of agriculture workers reside in California, as a case study of COVID-19’s impact on the rise of community action and the response of public health officials.

Aggressive Policing, Health, And Health Equity

A new Health Affairs brief reviews the impact of aggressive policing tactics on the health of communities of color, particularly Black communities. Emerging empirical literature suggests overexposure to aggressive surveillance and policing can affect these communities’ mental and physical health and welfare. The brief proposes possible reforms and calls on policy leaders to further evaluate the intersection of policing and public health.

SDOH Advocacy Update

Below are 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.

H.R. 1475 - Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act

Introduced by Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman [D-NJ], this bill addressing racial and ethnic disparities in mental health care passed the House in mid-May. The bill would establish a grant program to support enhanced behavioral health services at federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics and other providers serving a high proportion of individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups. Grant funding would also be allocated for programs that train students and professionals on how to better provide culturally competent mental health care. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to develop an education strategy that reduces stigma and promotes behavioral and mental health; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would conduct research on mental health disparities in racial and ethnic minority groups.

S.1042 - Kira Johnson Act

Introduced by Senator Raphael Warnock [D-GA], and included in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, this bill would provide grant funding to community-based organizations working to improve maternal health outcomes among Black pregnant and postpartum individuals and other underserved populations. Additional grant funding would be available for training programs that promote culturally sensitive care and reduce and prevent bias, racism and discrimination in maternity care settings. The bill would also establish the ‘Respectful Maternity Care Compliance Programs’ within hospitals so that pregnant and postpartum patients can report instances of racism or bias. Finally, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) would be required to publish a report on evaluation standards and best practices for reducing and preventing discrimination in maternity care. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

H.R.1878 - State Health Care Premium Reduction Act of 2021

This bill, introduced by Representative Angie Craig (D-MN), would establish the ‘Improve Health Insurance Affordability Fund’ and use federal funding to lower Affordable Care Act marketplace consumer costs. The fund could be used by states to create a reinsurance program which offsets the cost of insuring high-risk patients and allows for lower premium costs for all customers. States could also use the fund to provide assistance to residents enrolled under qualified health plans to reduce their out-of-pocket costs. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Health within the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

S.769 - Housing Fairness Act of 2021

This bill was introduced by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto [D-NV] to address persistent discrimination against communities of color in housing matters such as renting or buying a house, obtaining a mortgage or seeking housing assistance. The bill would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to conduct a nationwide testing program to detect, measure and document housing discrimination based on race, gender, familial status, disability status and/or national origin. It would also provide increased funding to the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to strengthen the work of FHIP organizations that provide direct assistance to victims of housing discrimination and to promote fair housing laws. The bill was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight

Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is currently hosting its 13th Annual Food From the Bar (FFTB) campaign to combat hunger in the Washington D.C. area, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign works with local law firms, law societies and legal professionals to host food drives and raise money for CAFB throughout May. In 2020, almost 40 legal firms helped raise over than $480,000 through Food From The Bar DC, providing more than one million meals to children and families. As shared by Radha Muthiah, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, “The devastating economic impacts of the past year will have long term effects for hundreds of thousands of people, and I am honored that law firms, legal societies and legal professionals in our area are once again coming together to provide critical support through Food From the Bar.”


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