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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRCC News and Upcoming Events
Please click here to complete a short survey about your thoughts on TRCC’s 2021 National Summit and any ideas you have as we plan for next year’s event. The survey closes Friday, November 12th, 2021.
Applications for Health Justice Award Now Open TRCC recently announced the establishment of the Health Justice Award, recognizing organizations that have successfully implemented a program or intervention to reduce health disparities within the past three years. The inaugural winner of the Award will receive $25,000 and will be formally honored at TRCC’s Annual National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health in 2022. To learn more and apply, please click here. Watch and Share! Voices from the Field Video Series Debut TRCC’s new five-video series, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shares the stories of those on whose behalf TRCC members work each day. Community Servings, God’s Love We Deliver, Loma Linda University Health, Presbyterian Healthcare Services and ProMedica participated in this video series, available here.
Social Determinants in the News
The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a grant to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to study the impact of community and household-level interventions on racial health disparities in Black communities. Interventions will include both environmental and economic health such as trash cleanups, tree plantings and rehabilitation of abandoned housing in communities as well as financial counseling, tax services and emergency cash assistance to residents. Researchers hope to show that deeply entrenched racial health disparities can be addressed by concentrated investment in Black neighborhoods.
Approximately 40 leading healthcare organizations have signed a new Health Equity Pledge, committing to collect data about race, ethnicity, language and sex (REaLS) for at least 50% of the organization’s patient, member or customer population. The groups will work together to develop best practices on how to use this data to reduce to health disparities. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Nemours Children’s Health and Socially Determined are among the groups signed on thus far.
This article shares the story of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, a group of Black health care professionals who are largely responsible for Philadelphia having one of the highest Black vaccination rates in a major U.S. city. The group provided general health checkups, simplified the sign-up process, partnered with local leaders and set up testing and vaccination sites in churches and community centers to build trust. Thus far, 54% of Black citizens have gotten vaccinated for COVID-19.
A new article in JAMA Network Open explores the role of real-time health data and health information technology (HIT) to positively affect the health of high-risk populations. The author shares the need for HIT solutions to include the capture, analysis and dissemination of information on social needs within electronic health records (EHRs).
A new nationwide poll released by the National WIC Association (NWA) and Alliance to End Hunger showed 83% support for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) among likely 2022 voters. The study also confirmed that a majority of voters polled would support increased funding for WIC and other reforms that would expand access to benefits and improve maternal and child health in the United States.
SDoH Advocacy Update
Though the Biden Administration released an updated framework at the end of October, negotiations continue on what will be included in the final version of the Build Back Better Act. The original $3.5 trillion price tag has been pared down to $1.75 trillion and the package remains linked to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in August. The most recent version includes a wide range of significant investments related to SDoH, including a year-long extension of both the expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. It would also lower premiums for those enrolled in Affordable Care Act Marketplace plans, close the Medicaid coverage gap and expand Medicare coverage to include hearing benefits. Additionally, it would include investments to provide universal preschool, ensure childcare access and equity, improve affordable housing options and address maternal health issues. An agreement on prescription drug pricing reform finally emerged last week, in which Medicare Part D would be able to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for the first time in its history. Four weeks of paid family and medical leave is once again included in the package, though it faces possible opposition in the Senate. As of Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to push the House toward a vote.
This bill was introduced by Senator Alex Padilla [D-CA] to address structural and systemic inequities in America’s healthcare system. The bill would require the creation of a publicly available repository of disaggregated data on health care outcomes and the inclusion of quality measures of equitable health care in hospital value-based purchasing programs. It would formalize the definition of inequitable care as that which fails to meet a high-quality care standard and is discriminatory in intent or effect based on race, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability status, age, or religion. Under the bill, healthcare providers who have been shown to exhibit a pattern of inequitable care could be excluded from Medicare or Medicaid payment and all providers would be required to provide a notice of patient rights. It would also create an Office of Civil Rights and Health Equity within the Department of Health and Human Services that would receive and investigate complaints of inequitable care. It would provide grants to hospitals that expand programs aimed at providing equitable health care. Lastly, it would establish a Federal Health Equity Commission to track progress on reducing disparities. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
This bill, introduced by Representative Jimmy Gomez [D-CA], would enhance the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to incentivize affordable housing development for extremely low income (ELI) households. The bill would increase the LIHTC for eligible projects by providing a basis boost of up to 50% for residential units that include ELI renters. In order to qualify, projects would be required to designate at least 20% of units for households earning no more than 30% of area median gross income or the federal poverty line, whichever is greater. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
This bill was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar [D-MN] to improve mental health resources in schools. It would modify the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to add mental health as a category for inclusion in local school wellness policies. Registered dietitians, licensed mental health professionals and officials from the Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would collaborate on the development of local school wellness policies to establish mental health goals, encourage mental health assessments and build resilient school environments. The bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight
Open Hand Atlanta has implemented a new Medically Tailored Meals Intervention pilot program to assist pregnant mothers with gestational diabetes. Participants will receive tailored nutrition education and meals throughout their last trimester and one month postpartum, for a total of 16 weeks. Open Hand’s telehealth platform will also provide patients with personalized support, access to resources and the ability to chat with other moms in the program.