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SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/05/2024

SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/05/2024

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The Latest Advocacy and Government Relations News

The Root Cause Coalition is dedicated to amplifying the voices of communities and driving impactful policy reforms. As a nonprofit committed to addressing the root causes of health disparities and poverty, we aim to educate our members on recent news and research that advocates for equitable healthcare access and influencing policy decisions that combat food insecurity and poverty. 

Read our April 22, 2024 news on social drivers and advocacy updates below:

Social Drivers in the News:

Addressing the Crisis in Rural Maternity Care
This fact sheet from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform presents statistics on loss of access to maternity care in rural hospitals and steps to implement changes in workforce recruitment and payment models to strengthen rural hospitals. 55% of rural hospitals in the U.S. do not offer maternity care due to challenging financial situations and workforce labor shortages, causing a decline in maternity services while demand in rural areas has been increasing. To preserve and strengthen rural maternity care, the fact sheet suggests creating new staffing models and support for rural care teams to attract and retain the maternity care workforce; requiring health insurance plans to pay adequately for maternity care; and requiring adequate payments from private and public payers for other rural health care services. 
The impacts of rent burden and eviction on mortality in the United States, 2000–2019
This study analyzes the correlation between high rent burdens and negative health outcomes, including increased mortality rates. The stress of elevated rent, exacerbated by rising costs and stagnant incomes, contributes to chronic health issues such as depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. The research emphasizes the impact of eviction threats and the prioritization of rent payments over essential needs, leading to detrimental health consequences. Individuals spending more than 50% of their income on rent are shown to have a 9% higher likelihood of death in the next 20 years, rising to 12% for those spending over 70%.

U.S. Health Care Workers Want Their Employers to Address Climate Change
This issue brief presents survey findings from U.S. clinicians about their views on what health systems can do to address climate change. The health care sector in the U.S. is responsible for 8.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, and while a growing number of health care organizations pledged to halve their emissions by 2030 and work towards net zero emissions by 2050, progress has been mixed. Buy-in from frontline health care workers is essential to pushing organizations to stick to their climate pledges. More than 1000 clinicians working at a hospital or health system participated in the survey, which found that four in five clinicians believe that it’s important for their hospital to address climate change, and six in 10 indicated a prospective employer’s policies and actions on climate change would impact their decision to apply for a job. 
As she drives research on structural racism in health care, Rachel Hardeman faces a painful reckoning
This article highlights the work of Rachel Hardeman, Director of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at The University of Minnesota, and her efforts to address the numerous health care disparities the Black community faces in Minneapolis, a city renowned for its health care systems. Hardeman shares how her personal experiences profoundly influenced her commitment to health advocacy and shaped her belief that initiating health care reform requires dismantling unjust structural practices that originate within society. These convictions form the core of her endeavors, guiding her towards community-centered research, nationwide advocacy and the establishment of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota. Hardeman's passion, shaped by her losses and values, drives her comprehensive approach to dismantling systemic injustices and promoting health equity on a broader scale.

SDoH Advocacy Update:

HHS Releases Implementation and Impact Report for Federal Water Assistance Program
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), recently released its Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) Implementation and Impact Report. Authorized with $1.1 billion of total funding and administered by ACF’s Office of Community Services (OCS), LIHWAP is the first emergency program to restore water services, prevent disconnections, and provide rate reductions for low-income households. Funding for these programs is provided through grants to states, tribes and territories to provide water assistance. The report reveals that the program served more than one million households by the end of June 2023 and, as of September 30, 2023, 93% of LIHWAP funds have been obligated to households. HHS also released an update to the LIHWAP Data Dashboard which covers grant recipient program data from the final quarter of 2023.
H.R.7002 – Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act of 2024
This bill, introduced by Representative Susan Bonamici [D-OR], would help alleviate the nursing shortage by increasing the number of faculty at nursing schools. The bill would establish a 3-year grant program for eligible nursing schools to enhance recruitment and retention of nursing faculty members and address the salary gap between clinical nursing and nurse faculty roles. Grant funding would be prioritized for schools that are working to serve vulnerable patient populations and health professional shortage areas as well as recruit and retain faculty from underrepresented populations. The bill would also direct HHS to submit a report about the effectiveness of the program on recruitment and retention of nursing faculty and recommendations for Congress to continue the program through Medicare. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 
S.3565 – Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024
This bill was introduced by Senator Peter Welch [D-VT] to close the digital divide by expanding access to high-speed, low-cost internet access. The bill would extend the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is currently set to run out of funding by April 2024. This program provides affordable high-speed internet options to households who qualify for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and other federal assistance programs. The bill was referred to the Committee on Appropriations. 
H.R.5657 – NO TIME TO Waste Act
This bill was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree [D-ME] to reduce food loss and waste (FLW) in the U.S. The bill would establish an Office of Food Loss and Waste within the USDA to strengthen research on FLW and new technologies and quantify the impact of current FLW policies on greenhouse gas emissions. It would also establish a grant program for public-private partnerships that commit to reducing FLW, strengthen current USDA research programs to include FLW as part of their priorities, and provide support to states to assist local food recovery infrastructure and coordination efforts. Additionally, the bill would strengthen and improve coordination between the USDA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce FLW by 50% by 2030 and fund a public awareness and education campaign focused on how much food goes to waste in households, and the impacts of FLW. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture, and Horticulture.

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