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SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/12/2024

SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/12/2024

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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:

‘Housing First’ Increased Psychiatric Care Office Visits and Prescriptions While Reducing Emergency Visits
This study details the success of the ‘Housing First’ health care approach for the unhoused population in Denver, Colorado. This approach prioritizes securing housing first before mental health or substance abuse treatment, based on the belief that secure housing encourages higher engagement and retention with such services. Housing First partnered with several Denver government offices to analyze nine years of recent data and studied 549 participants to determine the intervention’s impact on health care. The study found that participants had an average of eight more office-based visits for psychiatric diagnoses, three more prescription medications, and six fewer emergency department visits than the control group after two years with the program.

Medical mistakes are more likely in women and minorities
A JAMA study found that nearly 25% of hospital patients who died or were transferred to intensive care had experienced a diagnostic error and nearly 18% of misdiagnosed patients were harmed or died. This risk, however, is not equal. Women and racial and ethnic minorities are 20% to 30% more likely than white men to experience a misdiagnosis. Black mothers are 2.6 times as likely to die after childbirth as white mothers, Black people with depression are more likely than others to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and minorities are less likely than whites to be diagnosed with early dementia. Women and minority patients suffering from heart attacks are more likely to be discharged without diagnosis or treatment. Racial bias needs to be acknowledged in medical training and clinical care so doctors can take more time with patients and increase their confidence in a diagnosis to lead to better treatment decisions.
People Who Have Experienced Homelessness Sought Out as Trusted Healthcare Advisers
A growing number of people with lived experience of homelessness are finding opportunities in California to serve as leaders for health care systems, universities and organizations focused on serving homeless populations. While many organizations usually have at least one individual representing this population, it is becoming increasingly common for organizations to form entire boards of individuals with lived experience who can offer valuable insight and input on how to better serve homeless populations. Results have found that these insights not only create richer surveys and research plans but also heavily aid in the interpretation of data, allowing for improved health care experiences for Californians experiencing homelessness. 

SDoH Advocacy Update:

HRSA Launches New National Maternal Health Initiative
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Carole Johnson recently joined Representative Lauren Underwood [D-IL], co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, to announce a year-long Enhancing Maternal Health Initiative. The initiative aims to maximize the impact of HRSA grants and programs that address maternal mortality and improve maternal health disparities. It will also work to foster new partnerships and collaborations among HRSA grantees in high-need, high-opportunity jurisdictions and strengthen the capacity of HRSA’s maternal health grants, programs, and resources. The initiative will especially focus on parts of the country where HRSA has significant investments and areas with high need such as Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. This work will build on HRSA’s previous maternal health work including the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis
H.R.7039 – Stronger Communities through Better Transit Act
This bill, introduced by Representative Hank Johnson [D-GA], would expand transit services which can help lower families’ transportation costs, minimize racial inequities and reduce greenhouse gasses. Under the bill, the Department of Transportation would establish a grant program for urbanized areas, states and Indian Tribes to invest in public transportation service improvements. Grant funding could be used to improve public transportation service by providing new or expanded service areas, hours, and days along with other programs working to improve transit reliability or travel time savings. Funding could also be used for long-term service planning to better accommodate essential trips, such as those to health care, childcare and education facilities. The federal share for operating expenses would be higher for grantees investing in underserved and rural communities. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
S.2853 – Train More Nurses Act
This bill was introduced by Senator Jacky Rosen [D-NV] to address the health care workforce shortages in the U.S. It would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a review of all nursing grant programs and submit a report providing recommendations for changes to these grant programs that would increase nurse faculty, particularly in underserved areas. The report would also include recommendations on how to provide pathways for nurses who have more than 10 years of clinical experience to become faculty at schools of nursing and increase the nursing pipeline through pathways for licensed practical nurses to become registered nurses. The bill passed the Senate at the end of January. 
H.R.6961 – Nutrition CARE Act of 2024
This bill, introduced by Representative Judy Chu [D-CA], would expand access to care for Medicare beneficiaries with eating disorders by including coverage of outpatient medical nutrition therapy (MNT) through Medicare Part B. MNT is the process of providing treatment and recovery around food and nutrition from a registered dietitian to address the complex nature of eating disorders. MNT is not currently covered under Medicare Part B, limiting access to treatment for seniors who are more prone to serious comorbidities associated with eating disorders. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means.

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