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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

Sign-On to TRCC's Letter to House Rules Committee: 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. We strongly urge you to consider adding your organization’s name to the growing roster of those who express support for hunger as a policy priority, and as part of this request, a call for a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health. 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. Sign now and please share with your networks! 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. Rev. Dr. Stacy C. Smith, Director of The Center of Excellence in Faith and Health Equity at Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, will be among this year’s National Summit speakers. To learn more about her session, “My Sister’s Keeper: Equipping and Empowering Black Women for Healing and Wholeness,” click here.

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors, AARP Foundation and ProMedica. And thank you to Robert Wood Johnson for sponsoring TRCC’s “Voices from the Field” initiative, a series of forthcoming vignettes focused on individual voices of those affected by social determinants of health. If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities at this year’s National Summit, please contact Madison Flores at

Social Determinants in the News

This article calls for more substance use disorder (SUD) coverage within Medicare. Black, Asian, Indigenous, and Latinx Americans have seen increased rates of SUD in the past several years. Medicare’s failure to cover this condition perpetuates health disparities by leaving many minority communities without access to crucial healthcare and needed services.

At the June 2021 American Medical Association (AMA) Special Meeting, the AMA House of Delegates adopted new policies that back eliminating work requirements and support states’ ability to expand eligibility for public assistance programs beyond federal standards. In the resolution, AMA delegates note that work requirements for those receiving public assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), can negatively affect recipients’ health outcomes and limit their ability to find stable employment.

The Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine has released a new health equity tracker that contextualizes health disparities facing communities of color. The tracker records COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations across race and ethnicity, sex, age, state, and county. To encompass more SDoH issues, efforts are also underway to expand the health equity tracker to include both behavioral and mental health.

This article outlines progress made with telehealth and obstacles that prevent further innovation and social integration. Healthcare experts and professionals discuss the different ways health data can be collected and used to address SDoH and improve healthcare quality.

A new report explores more than 800 different medications being developed to address diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic communities. Measures to develop, produce and distribute medications to address HIV infections, asthma and sickle cell disease, for example, are outlined along with new clinical trial diversity principles that work to build trust and reduce barriers to clinical trial access.

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.

This bill was introduced by Representative Sharice Davids [D-KS] to address the maternal mortality crisis in the US. The bill would provide additional funding to states’ maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs) to promote greater levels of diversity and community engagement as well as to minority-serving institutions who study racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. Under this legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to collaborate with maternal health stakeholders to review and make recommendations based on existing maternal health data collection processes and quality measures. The bill would also commission the first-ever comprehensive study of Native American maternal health issues and would establish the first tribal MMRC. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States.

Introduced by Senator Ed Markey [D-MA], this bill would remove barriers to safe, reliable and convenient public transit for all communities across the country. It would support state and local efforts to provide fare-free public transportation systems by establishing a ‘Freedom to Move’ grant program. Funding would offset operational costs and could also be used to address transit equity gaps and improve quality, reliability and accessibility of transit service for low-income and historically underserved communities. This bill was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Introduced by Representative Don Young [R-AK], this bill would expand the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program by lowering free meal eligibility thresholds while also reducing the administrative burden for public-private partnerships to participate in the program. In an effort to get children to summer meal sites, it would also provide grants to promote new and innovative ways to address transportation barriers in rural and underserved areas. Additionally, the bill would allow reimbursement for offsite meals served to children after emergencies or disasters through the Summer Nutrition Program. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Introduced by Senator Patty Murray [D-WA], this bill would help close the digital divide by establishing a State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This program would fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans that would identify barriers and set objectives to expand accessibility to broadband and other technological services in every state. The bill would also establish the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program which would provide funding to community-based organizations working to advance digital equity through skills trainings and the operation of public computing centers, among other programs. The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight

Aetna has developed a specialty provider network to address suicide prevention and expand access to mental health care in collaboration with Psych Hub, a comprehensive platform for mental health education. Aetna will provide access to an evidence-based curriculum that features a series of eLearning courses to the nearly 300,000 behavioral health and employee assistance programs in their network. Several suicide prevention and aftercare initiatives – for those who have gone through inpatient care - are underway at Aetna.


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