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SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/19/2024

SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/19/2024

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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:

State Strategies to Address the Impact Of COVID-19 On Maternal And Child Populations: COVID-19 Response And Recovery
This article details the steps that governors can take to combat maternal mortality following COVID-19's impact on maternal and child health (MCH) in the U.S. Key findings show the disproportionate impact on maternal and child health in Black and American Indian/Alaska Native pregnancies, highlighting preventable maternal mortality and poor birth outcomes due to the pandemic exacerbating existing inequalities that strained the health care system. Key arguments urge governors to follow the successful examples of states such as Vermont, Minnesota, Oregon and New Jersey, who successfully implemented strategies to combat these issues focusing on areas such as COVID-19 response, workforce, childcare, behavioral health and community support.
Paid Leave Means a Stronger Nation
This fact sheet is a state-by-state analysis highlighting the need for a national paid family and medical leave laws for workers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Currently, only 14 states have their own paid family and medical leave programs. The lack of a paid leave policy exacerbates other economic and care challenges such as the rising cost of living, scarcity of maternal health care and the rising number of aging adults to care for. The fact sheet recommends a national paid leave program that includes all workers regardless of geography or industry, replaces enough income for workers to afford leave, provides enough time and covers the range of major needs workers face, provides support to ease implementation for workers and businesses, and has a sustainable funding source that is affordable for workers and employers. 
Housing Approaches to Extreme Weather Can Lessen Harms to Community Health
This article is an interview with Patricia Fabian, associate professor at Boston University’s (BU) School of Public Health and associate director of BU’s Institute for Global Sustainability, about how housing policymakers can reassess strategies and systems to address challenges posed by climate extremes and mitigate the harmful effects on community health. Fabian says extreme temperatures affect health directly, like the effect of heat or cold on children or older adults, and indirectly, such as limited ability to control extreme temperatures that force people to make decisions like heat or cool their home, or be able to put food on the table or pay their rent. She goes on to say that vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected by extreme weather because they are disproportionately located in heat islands and are more likely to have lower quality housing that is not as well insulated or weatherized. To solve these issues and mitigate the harm to community health, Fabian suggests increased public-private partnerships and implementing climate adaptation, sustainability and decarbonization opportunities to increase community resilience. 
Native nations with scarce internet are building their own broadband networks
This article details how the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the already existing urgent need for broadband in Native Reservations, prompting some Native nations to build their own networks. While policy changes and increased funding aim to close the digital divide, many challenges remain, including limited resources, staffing shortages and implementation costs. Organizations such as Tribal Ready are dedicated to helping tribes navigate funding and regulatory obstacles in order to establish their own broadband infrastructure in an effort to bridge the digital gap and provide essential services to their communities. 

SDoH Advocacy Update:

HHS Hosts First-Ever ‘Food is Medicine’ Summit, Launches Three Public-Private Partnerships
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently hosted its first-ever Food is Medicine summit in Washington, D.C., an all-day summit for stakeholders at the intersection between food and health. At the event, HHS released five Food is Medicine principles that will guide the department’s work when it comes to educating the public, changing public policies and integrating nutrition in the services it provides. These principles include recognizing that nourishment is essential for good health, well-being and resilience; facilitating easy access to healthy food across the health continuum in the community; cultivating understanding of the relationship between nutrition and health; uniting partners with diverse assets to build sustained and integrated solutions; and investing in the capacity of under-resourced communities. Three new public-private partnerships with Instacart, Rockefeller Foundation and Feeding America were also announced to encourage an exchange of research, communication and policy priorities that advance the collective understanding of Food is Medicine. To view the recordings of the event, click here. 
S.3641 – MOMS Who Serve Act of 2024
This bill, introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen [D-NH], would establish a pilot program to assess the feasibility and impact of providing evidence-based perinatal mental health prevention programs for eligible members and dependents within military treatment facilities. The pilot program would integrate evidence-based perinatal mental health prevention programs for eligible members and dependents within existing maternal or pediatric care or programming, including primary care, obstetric care, pediatric care, and family and parenting programs. Programs would be in geographically diverse sites across the U.S. and would work to remove barriers to participation, such as childcare availability and differences in military rank and occupation. The bill would also establish an advisory committee to assist in the implementation of the pilot program by providing recommendations on how to increase diversity in participation, conduct outreach on the benefits of prevention and the availability of pilot program participation and reduce stigma with respect to perinatal mental health conditions and the use of prevention programs. The bill was referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
H.R.7266 – Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act
Introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood [D-IL], 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 House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
S.2385 – Tribal Access to Clean Water Act
This bill was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet [D-OR] to address persistent economic disadvantages, racial inequities and a lack of public health infrastructure, including access to running water experienced by Native communities. 48% of households on Native American reservations do not have clean water or adequate sanitation and Native American homes are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing. To expand access to clean water, the bill would provide additional funding to Indian Health Service (IHS) to accelerate efforts to provide universal access to reliable, clean and drinkable water for all Native communities and enhance resilience in the face of the climate crisis. The bill would also increase funding for Native communities at USDA Rural Development by authorizing additional funding for Community Facilities Grant and Loan Program for Native communities and ensuring that Native communities are eligible and treated equitably when considered for grants and loans for the extension or improvement of existing water supply systems. Hearings were recently held on this bill by the Committee on Indian Affairs. Click here to view a recording of the hearings.

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