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: contact@rootcausecoalition.org.


TRCC News and Upcoming Events


Last Chance to Submit Proposals for the 2021 National Summit!

Please submit your proposals to present at the 6th National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health by 11:59pm ET tonight (March 15th). In addition to work on hunger, housing, transportation, isolation and other well-recognized social determinants, we encourage submissions that address systemic racism and the ongoing effects of COVID. Please click here to access the RFP portal and officially submit your proposal.


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 the social determinants of health (SDoH).


This year’s virtual Summit will be held October 4-6, 2021.


Accelerated Response Briefs

The Root Cause Coalition is continuing its Accelerated Response Briefs (ARB), a series that highlights TRCC members’ initiatives, programs and policies throughout the pandemic. TRCC members interested in being featured in a future ARB should contact Alex Lewin-Zwerdling at alexandra@rootcausecoalition.org.


Social Determinants in the News


Strategies to address housing as SDoH

Research published in the Journal of Child Health Care found that poor housing quality can increase outpatient and emergency department utilization as well as contribute to adverse health outcomes. The study recommends that organizations seeking to address housing insecurity and improve health outcomes focus on three strategies: implement SDoH screenings, collaborate with cities to ensure safe housing conditions and invest in housing projects.


HHS taps community health centers, food pantries in COVID response

To combat COVID-19 and increase access to personal protective gear, the Biden administration announced their partnership with more than 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries who will distribute more than 25 million masks to underserved communities across the country.


Cancer health equity requires addressing SDOH, health disparities

Recommendations from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American Cancer Society Action Network and the National Minority Quality Forum indicate the need for policy and practice reform to better integrate health equity into cancer care. Calls to action include policy changes by Congress, state and local governments, federal agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and commercial payers, as well as need to foster a more diverse healthcare workforce.


COVID recovery requires addressing economic inequities

The President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explores how Congressional policy responses to COVID-19 have failed to recognize that physical and economic health are not distinct issues but instead are deeply interconnected. The article outlines strategies for Congress to work towards a more equitable future by addressing housing, nutrition assistance, paid leave, unemployment insurance and health care access.


Examining why mental health service use and dropout rates vary across racial/ethnic groups

Research published by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities discusses the disproportionality of undiagnosed mental illness in racial and ethnic minority groups. In comparison to their white counterparts, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are only half as likely to receive treatment and are more likely to drop out prior to treatment completion. The findings of the study highlight the need for culturally sensitive discussions about mental health in minority communities and the establishment of targeted health services for vulnerable communities.


Kamala Harris announces $250 million in funding to help address COVID response inequities

Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the Biden administration will be investing $250 million to support community health organizations' efforts to combat the health inequities perpetuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new initiative, Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19, will be facilitated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health and will offer grants to establish partnerships with community-based organizations. The goal is to facilitate COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and identify best practices to support vulnerable and underserved communities.


Opportunity to Combat Loneliness Among Older Adults

TRCC member achi, a holistic care management company, is seeking partnerships with nursing programs, medical programs and organizations serving the older adult population to expand their Tellegacy program. The Tellegacy program follows a focused curriculum to combat loneliness among older adults by engaging them in weekly phone calls or virtual visits with university students. If you are aware of medical or other allied health students who may be interested in volunteer opportunities, or entities that would be eligible and interested in participating in this free program, please contact Hayley Studer via email at hayley.studer@achi.solutions. To learn more about Tellegacy, please click here.


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.


H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The next COVID-19 relief package was passed through the reconciliation process and was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Friday, March 12th. Among many measures, the package extends the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and directs additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs. It provides incentives to states to expand Medicaid by increasing the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) and extends Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid eligibility to pregnant women for 12 months postpartum. It also expands both earned income and child tax credits, extends temporary federal unemployment benefits, subsidizes health care and COBRA coverage and provides direct stimulus payments to qualifying individuals. Additional funding is directed towards emergency rental aid, homeowner assistance and other programs to combat homelessness. Additionally, the age of eligibility for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at emergency homeless shelters is raised from 18 to 25 for the duration of the pandemic. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 15 percent increase is extended, and both the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) received additional funding.


USDA Extends Child Nutrition Waivers Through Summer 2021

Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) once again extended previously issued waivers to continue to provide food distribution flexibility to communities and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally set to expire on June 30, 2021 each of the following waivers are now extended through September 30, 2021. The non-congregate feeding waiver allows meals to be served to children outside of the normally required group. The parent/guardian pick-up waiver allows parents or guardians pick up meals without the child being present at the site, and the area eligibility waiver expands access to meal program participation by waiving certain site eligibility requirements. The meal pattern waiver waives certain meal requirements, allowing local operations the ability to distribute meals with supplies they have available. Additionally, the child nutrition monitoring waiver provides for some flexibility during the first week of programs at Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) locations.


H.R.525 - COVID HCBS Relief Act of 2021

Introduced by Representative Debbie Dingell [D-MI], this bill temporarily provides additional funding for Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) through a 10 percent increase in Federal Medical Assistance. HCBS programs deliver home health and human services to older adults and people with disabilities. Additional funding would also expand HBCS programs by providing hazard pay, paid sick and family medical leave and personal protective equipment to home health workers and direct support professionals. Funding could also be used to recruit and train additional direct care workers and to pay

for technologies that ensure continuity of care and minimize COVID-19 risk for both older adults and people with disabilities. The bill is referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


H.R.831 - Health STATISTICS Act of 2021

Introduced by Representative Scott Peters [D-CA], this bill improves infrastructure to better inform responses to public health emergencies, such as COVID-19. The bill establishes a working group, composed of representatives from federal agencies, tasked with providing recommendations on improving public federal health data standards, collection and reporting, facilitating better data sharing among local, state and federal agencies and expanding the use of SDoH data across the health and human services sectors. The bill creates grants for public health departments that help expand and modernize their public health data systems and support data sharing between federal, state and local entities. Additionally, the bill creates a demonstration project that focuses on public health statistics, trends and patterns with a particular focus on SDoH. The bill is referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight


ProMedica partners with technology company Bitwise Industries and other community stakeholders to launch innovation center

ProMedica is partnering with Bitwise Industries to launch an innovation center in Toledo, Ohio that will focus on racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender diversity while “accelerating partnerships, supporting workforce development and facilitating innovation.” ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra noted that Bitwise Industries “…has a strong track record, and its mission strongly aligns with ProMedica’s social determinants of health and innovations efforts. We believe this partnership will enable us to build upon our successes and continue the momentum in our community. Together, and with the help of other community partners, we expect to elevate the innovation and technology landscape in our region while creating career path opportunities for our underserved populations.”

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