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
TRCC has Released its First Annual Health Equity and Social Determinants: Trends, Attitudes and Perspectives (TAP!) Research Report Throughout 2021, TRCC conducted a series of national surveys to explore Trends, Attitudes and Perspectives (TAP) about health equity and related issues. These monthly pulse surveys have tested attitudes and perceptions regarding specific aspects of health equity including hunger, poverty, technology, climate change and how COVID-19 continues to affect individual and public health. This new report includes the key takeaways and trends, along with additional considerations including several calls to action for TRCC and its members. As Deadline Approaches, Apply Today for TRCC's Health Justice Award TRCC’s Health Justice Award recognizes organizations that have successfully implemented a program or intervention to reduce health disparities within the past three years. The inaugural winner of this new Award will receive $25,000 and will be formally honored at TRCC’s Annual National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health, held in Minneapolis, October 2-4 in 2022. To learn more and apply, please click here.
Social Determinants in the News
We need to address the mental health crisis among older Americans A recent survey found that only four percent of baby boomers saw a therapist or psychiatrist in a typical year compared to sixteen percent of Generation Xers. Undiagnosed mental health conditions, including conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD can exacerbate heart disease and other ailments which become increasingly prevalent with age. Telehealth options for mental health services allow for greater access and reduced stigma, particularly among those with mobility and/or transportation issues. The authors of this report also suggest that primary care physicians can play a role in de-stigmatizing mental health issues. Four Black-led tech businesses tackling health equity San Francisco-based StartUp Health is invested in improving patient communication with physicians. Health in Her Hue, Hurdle, MedHaul and Clinify Health all connect patients to culturally competent medical professionals, provide low-cost transportation for patients to medical appointments and help physicians target patients who are most in need. An Oral Health Funder Leads with Equity In New Strategic Plan This article highlights the oral health disparities that exist in Washington along with Acora Foundation’s work to help combat this issue. A survey conducted by the Washington Department of Health found that Black, Indigenous and other children of color have higher rates of cavities and tooth decay. Similarly, another survey in Washington found that Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are nearly twice as likely to experience oral pain as a white adult. The article also lays out the Acora Foundation’s actions to address these disparities by pursuing equity-centered policy change, including statewide fluoridated water and increased investment in pediatric dental programs. Building a 'Ground Game' for Community Mental Health Highlighted in this article is the work of The Center of Transformation which is a faith-based nonprofit in Maryland that offers health, education and employment programs for families in need. Abraham Shanklin Jr. and his church members formed a mental health ministry that serves their local area to assist with the county’s shortage of mental health professionals. The Center focuses on the cultural and structural barriers that prevent communities of color from accessing mental health services and has grown from helping 30 to 100 families in just one year.
SDOH Advocacy Update
Reconciliation Updates The Build Back Better Act (BBB) is still under consideration in the Senate with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sharing a new Dear Colleague letter last week. The letter provides an update on the development of the bill and reiterates Senator Schumer’s goal of passing the legislation and getting it to President Biden’s desk before Christmas. It lays out the steps to meet this deadline, though the timeline remains complicated due to intra-party disagreement around a number of key provisions and overall costs of the package. The version of the bill passed by the House has a price tag of $1.75 trillion and includes 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 child care access and equity, improve affordable housing options and address maternal health issues. The House version would also include four weeks of paid family and medical leave and would allow Medicare Part D to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for the first time in its history.
Maternal Day of Action Summit Held at the White House Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris hosted the first ever White House Day of Action to draw attention to the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. The event included a number of panels as well as remarks from officials that highlighted the steps the federal government will take to improve maternal health outcomes. Vice President Harris outlined the substantial maternal health investments proposed in the Build Back Better Act and announced new commitments from the White House to support safe pregnancies and childbirth and reduce complications and mortality in the year following birth. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra delivered remarks affirming HHS’ commitment to addressing this crisis; he also shared the results of a new report that shows the impact of State Medicaid coverage extensions to 12 months postpartum. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure was also on hand to announce state-specific CMS guidance related to postpartum coverage. Black Maternal Health Caucus co-founders and Co-Chairs Representative Lauren Underwood and Representative Alma Adams also participated in the event and called for passage of the Build Back Better Act.
H.R.6072 - Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities to Address Social Needs Act of 2021 Introduced by Representative Dan Kildee [D-MI], this bill authorizes a state-based grant program that establishes partnerships with private, non-profit or philanthropic organizations, and coordinates health and social services, such as nutritional assistance, housing, transportation and job training. Recipients receive one-time seed funding to facilitate cross-sector referrals, coordinate services and provide technical support and outcome tracking. When building partnerships, states must identify goals that improve health, social outcomes and access within their communities. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce in addition to the Committees on Agriculture, Financial Services, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Education and Labor.
S.3149 - Rural Health Equity Act Introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley [D-OR], this bill would establish an Office of Rural Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If passed, it will require research on disparities related to the availability of health care and other public health issues that affect rural populations. It would call for the dissemination of this research along with innovative programs and interventions that improve care, services, and SDoH in rural areas, including among rural minority and LGBTQ populations. Additionally, the Office of Rural Health would administer grants and contracts to provide technical assistance and other support for programs working to improve rural health outcomes. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight
Enterprise Closes Two Housing Credit Funds to Preserve Affordable Homes in 17 States Enterprise Community Partners has closed two low-income housing tax credit funds to create and preserve more than 3,500 affordable rental homes in 17 states. Some of these properties will set aside a number of units for veterans and people experiencing mental illness or homelessness due to substance abuse. These funds are a part of the overall work Enterprise has done this year, with a combined total investment of $800 million towards nearly 8,000 affordable rental homes across the country.