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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

TRCC Opens Sign-On Letter to House Rules Committee on Hunger and Healthcare Costs

The hunger crisis in the US has come with staggering human and financial costs. The pandemic worsened health inequities that have gone unaddressed for too long, and hunger was no exception. To help address the health-related issues of hunger, The Root Cause Coalition is working closely with House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern to support potential steps Congress and the Biden administration could take to end food insecurity in this country once and for all.

We are pleased to offer organizations across the nation the opportunity to support a letter expressing support for the Committee’s ongoing efforts as well as calling for a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health to fully examine the changes needed to address these urgent issues. To view the letter please click here and to add your organization please fill out this brief form here. The letter will remain open until June 30th, and we encourage you to share this with your own network, as well.

Register Now for the National Summit! Plan now to join us for TRCC’s 6th National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health, held virtually October 4-6, 2021. Early bird registration goes through July 1st, 2021. Click here to register and learn more! With a focus on how the events of the last year-and-a-half have underscored the urgency to address social determinants to achieve health equity, the agenda for this year’s National Summit will bring together leaders in 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, including a focus on systemic racism.

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors, AARP Foundation and ProMedica. If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities at this year’s National Summit, please contact Madison Flores at

WEEKLY NATIONAL SUMMIT UPDATES! Watch this space for speaker announcements and updates relative to featured speakers, panel and other information about TRCC’s National Summit! Daniel Dawes, director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and a professor of health law, policy and management will be among the featured speakers.

TRCC Releases New Consumer Insights Research: COVID-19 Behaviors and Implications for Health Equity The coalition recently released its latest consumer insights report. This month’s survey focuses on the intersection of COVID-19 and health equity, including the interesting connection between age and our pandemic (and perceived post-pandemic) activities. Click here for the press release and the full report.

Social Determinants in the News

Investing in The Data Systems We Need to Create the Health System We Deserve

This article highlights the need to improve the nation’s health information technology (HIT) systems in order to adequately address SDoH. The authors highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic revealed gaps in HIT systems’ standardization, interoperability and scalability. It also outlines the benefits of investing in these systems to address racial disparities and lower health care costs.

Risk of death for U.S. infants with congenital heart disease varies geographically

Data analysis shows that minority infants with congenital heart disease living in higher poverty areas are more likely to have fatal health outcomes than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. In fact, socioeconomic and demographic factors were shown to be just as influential as other medical factors in health outcomes. The article highlights the urgent need to address the SDoH as a means to improve health for those living in poverty.

Reporting of Sociodemographic Variables in Randomized Clinical Trials, 2014-2020

In an article published in JAMA Network, researchers explore the impact of reported sociodemographic characteristics within randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Through a cross-sectional study of 237 RCTs, findings show that sociodemographic characteristics of study populations are minimally reported, especially SDoH-related factors such as housing, language, health care access and employment status. The authors note that this failure to gather and report on sociodemographic and SDoH can obscure inequities in trial enrollment and outcomes and affect their applicability to a broader public.

Student-Led Efforts to Advance Anti-Racist Medical Education

This article outlines student-led efforts to advance an anti-racist curriculum and discourse within medical education. Examples from students’ efforts at Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Francisco, show the potential to improve learning environments, address biases in discourse and curriculum and create innovative measures at redefining medical education. The authors aim to provide support to other students and faculty pursuing anti-racist curricular changes within their own institutions.

What Is the Social Vulnerability Index, How Does it Measure SDOH?

The social vulnerability index (SVI), created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011, measures a number of factors including poverty, lack of access to transportation and crowded housing conditions to assist in emergency preparedness. The CDC uses United States Census information to calculate the SVI for a given area based on four themes comprised of 15 social factors. SVI scores can help organizations and government agencies determine how to address barriers to overall patient wellness.

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.

Reps. Sewell, Smith Lead Bipartisan Push to Increase CMMI Transparency and Public Engagement

In the first week of June, Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) led a bipartisan group of 24 Members of Congress in a letter urging the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to increase transparency and public engagement, especially pertaining to the scope and duration of demonstration projects. The letter’s goal is to ensure that CMMI reaches its full potential to reduce health care costs, address health disparities and improve the quality of care delivered for beneficiaries. To read the full letter, click here.

S.1491 - Rural MOMS Act

This bill, introduced by Senator Tina Smith [D-MN] addresses the maternal health crisis in the US, particularly in rural areas. The bill would provide funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish rural obstetric networks that foster innovation and collaboration and improve birth outcomes in rural areas. Demonstration grants would also be available to medical schools and other health professional training programs that provide education and training on maternal health in rural areas. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to conduct a study on gaps and racial inequities in rural maternal health care delivery and data collection. The bill was passed by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in late May and has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

S.1460 - Community Broadband Act of 2021

Introduced by Senator Cory Booker, this bill would bridge the digital divide by allowing communities broadband access through expanded public-private partnerships and locally owned broadband systems. Currently, a number of states have laws that either restrict or prohibit local communities from leveraging local funding when building their own broadband networks. This bill would nullify these state laws, allowing residents better access to high-quality internet services for school, work and telehealth needs. The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

H.R. 3772 - Housing is a Human Right Act

Introduced by Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), this wide-reaching bill would invest in housing infrastructure to reduce homelessness, especially among marginalized populations that are disproportionately affected by housing insecurity. The bill would provide grant funding to expand criminal justice alternatives to penalizing homelessness, with a particular focus on reducing racial disparities in law enforcement and prosecution. Funding would also be provided for the Community Development Block Grant Plus Program as well as pilot projects in public and school libraries to address the needs of homeless individuals. Funding would be increased for existing McKinney-Vento Emergency Solutions and Continuum of Care grants as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program. The bill would also commission studies to assess barriers facing homeless populations’ ability to vote in public elections and request or replace essential identification documents. Finally, the bill would establish an Advisory Board within the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, composed of advocates and individuals who have currently experienced homelessness. The bill was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committees on House Administration, the Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means.

The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight

Project Angel Food Presents 14 Millionth Meal

Project Angel Food held an event to celebrate the delivery of the organization’s 14 millionth meal! Founded in 1989 by Marianne Williamson, Project Angel Food prepares and delivers medically tailored meals for those living with life-threatening illnesses. At the event, Executive Director Richard Ayoub shared “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we ramped up bigger and faster than ever before. I never imagined we’d be celebrating at this time. And how beautiful and what amazing divine choreography it is that we are doing it while we are also marking the 40th anniversary of the first reporting of AIDS by the CDC.” TRCC has also documented Project Angel Food’s enormous efforts and initiatives over the past year.


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