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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

Be sure to SAVE THE DATE for TRCC’s Annual National Summit Mark your calendars now for TRCC’s 6th Annual National (Virtual) Summit on the Social Determinants of Health to be held October 4-6, 2021 from noon – 5 p.m. ET, each day. Thanks to all those who submitted a proposal to present at the summit. Submissions selected for presentation will be confirmed in April, and the registration portal will be launched May 3rd. Watch this space for continued updates. 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). We’ll be highlighting speakers and special features of the Summit in the coming weeks in this newsletter and on our website, so check often for the latest updates!

Check out TRCC’s New Website! We are excited to share that TRCC’s website has a new look. Check it out when you have a few moments and, of course, head there for the latest TRCC news and updates.

Please Share Your Covid-19 Stories! 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

Social Determinants in the News

How Medicaid managed care orgs can confront care disparities

An issue brief released by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) focuses on the role of Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) in reducing racial care disparities. The brief shares ways that Medicaid MCOs can advance health equity, such as improving maternal health for women of color, addressing socioeconomic barriers to health and expanding access to telehealth services for rural communities.

The Humana Foundation awards nearly $1 million in a second-year investment to Kingsley House and Growing Local Food Collaborative

The Humana Foundation has allocated nearly $1 million in funding towards two projects in the greater New Orleans area. This includes the Kingsley House, a program dedicated to lifting individuals and families out of generational poverty, and Growing Local Food Collaborative, a program designed to combat food insecurity and support post-secondary education and employment.

One year into the pandemic: Implications of COVID-19 for social determinants of health

This article from Kaiser Family Foundation looks at how adults are faring across a range of social determinants of health after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discusses possible SDoH funding and policy changes to keep an eye on.

Socioeconomic factors play key role in COVID-19 impact on Blacks, Hispanics

A study published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society revealed how socioeconomic factors play a role in elevated rates of COVID-19 in Black and Hispanic communities. Factors such as population density at the patient's recorded address, median income and household size contributed to higher rates of positive tests. Researchers note how the multiple socioeconomic factors associated with higher odds of positive are indicative of the structural racism that drives many healthcare-related outcomes for minorities.

Stroke deaths rise in rural areas, hold steady in cities

New research shows an increase in stroke deaths each year among adults aged 35-64 years in rural counties across the US, likely due to chronic illness, fewer affordable health insurance options and other socioeconomic factors. The findings illustrate the need for public health departments and medical practices to expand telemedicine and implement new strategies to increase access to care in rural communities.

Food Vouchers Address Food Security, Social Determinants of Health

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open found that low-income individuals who used community-based produce vouchers had improved fruit and vegetable intake and overall dietary quality. Results of the study suggest that future produce voucher programs should target benefits to the lowest-income populations for better nutrition and higher-per-dollar outcomes.

8 Digital Health Trends Emerging from the Pandemic

Digital health experts from the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and BioHealth Innovation came together in a virtual forum to discuss how data and AI are beginning to transform healthcare. The article shares topics from the forum, such as telemedicine, remote diagnostics and personalized care. It also demonstrates how technology has aided SDoH efforts and can connect members of underserved communities with health care providers.

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.1331 - Strengthening Mental Health Supports for BIPOC Communities Act

Introduced by Representative Tony Cardenas [CA-29], this bill amends the Public Health Service Act to reduce disparities in mental health services available to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. State plans receiving federal Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funding would be required to report details on health outcomes and services provided to racial and ethnic minority groups to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). States would also be required to report efforts made to hire diverse mental health care providers and would provide training on culturally and linguistically competent mental health services. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

S.Res.133 - A resolution condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19.

Introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono [D-HI], this resolution condemns and denounces all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and anti-Asian sentiment, particularly those relating to COVID-19. It urges federal, state and local agencies to expand investigations and collection of data on the incidence of hate crimes related to COVID-19. It also calls for the coordination of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and Asian-American and Pacific-Islander community-based organizations to provide recommendations on mitigating the use of racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic. The resolution was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R.1370 - Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID–19 Act of 2021

Introduced by Representative Ayanna Pressley [MA-07], this bill aims to reduce health disparities by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect and publicly report racial, ethnic and other demographic data on COVID-19 testing, fatalities and vaccination rates. The bill establishes an inter-agency ‘Commission on Ensuring Health Equity During the COVID–19 Public Health Emergency’ to examine barriers to data collection, make policy recommendations and determine how to best use data to promote health equity. Additionally, after the public health emergency has ended, HHS will be required to publicly share final statistics and provide a report to Congress on evidenced-based response strategies to safeguard the health of underserved communities. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Natural Resources.

S.246 - Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act

Introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley [D-OR], this bill invests in nursing schools to ensure sufficient frontline providers for future public health challenges. The bill allocates grant funding to enhance and modernize nursing schools, with priority given to schools located in medically underserved communities. These grants may be used for updating curriculum and infrastructure as well as expanded opportunities for clinical education. Additionally, the grants would be used to increase recruitment and retention of both students and faculty from racial or ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the nursing workforce. After introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

The Root Cause Coalition Member Spotlight

BCBSA, Feeding America partner on vaccine education initiative

Feeding America is teaming up with The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) to support COVID-19 vaccine outreach in vulnerable communities. Clinical information and educational materials highlighting the safety of the vaccine, written in both Spanish and English, will be made available at Feeding America’s 200 food banks. "Feeding America is uniquely positioned to help identify and address systemic barriers to ending food insecurity in the United States," said Casey Marsh, Chief Development Officer at Feeding America. "Partnerships with organizations like BCBSA help us work with member food banks to invest in underserved communities in many ways, including investments in health equity."


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