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SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/26/2024

SDOH Advocacy Update - 02/26/2024

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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:

Structural Racism, Mass Incarceration and Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Severe Maternal Morbidity 
This article sheds light on the critical intersection of structural racism within the legal system and its impacts on maternal health. Through a cross-sectional study of births across California, results concluded that pregnancies residing in counties affected by inequitable mass incarceration were shown to increase the risk of various mental and physical health outcomes, specifically severe maternal morbidity, as opposed to pregnancies residing in low inequity counties. These results indicate the need to transform inequitable institutions to improve maternal health outcomes in the US.
The gender wage gap among health care workers across educational and occupational groups
This study measures women’s representation and the gender wage gap in health care jobs by educational level and occupational category. Using data from 2003-2021 of the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey, researchers found that women’s representation in health care occupations has increased in occupations that require a master’s or doctoral/professional degree, and the wage gap between men and women is largest among workers in high-education health care professions. Conversely, the gender wage gap has stagnated or widened in lower education occupations. The study recommends including gender equity reviews in health care organizations, prioritizing women in management roles, and changing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies to promote gender equity in health care occupations. 
Medicaid and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data: Key Factors for More Equitable Data Collection 
To begin combatting the long history of health disparities and inequities in the LGBTQ+ community, Medicaid is introducing three optional questions states may use to collect sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data in Medicaid applications. This aims to build a better understanding of health differences in care and quality among different communities. Information in this article breaks down the questions and considerations that may come with implementing SOGI data into their Medicaid applications, as well as resources for policymakers and advocates to understand better the inequities facing the LGBTQ+ community.  
Johns Hopkins launches Center for Global Women's Health and Gender Equity
Johns Hopkins University established the Center for Global Women’s Health and Gender equity to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. The center will address issues such as gender-based violence, economic and social empowerment and equitable norms and health systems. It will aim to unite practitioners, leaders and advocates globally and within Johns Hopkins to advance progress through research and training aimed at addressing impediments to gender equity, as well as provide training and mentorship to Johns Hopkins students and global professionals.

SDoH Advocacy Update:

White House Releases 2023 Equity Action Plan
On the anniversary of the signing of the Executive Order on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through The Federal Governmentthe Biden-Harris Administration released a new White House Progress Report on Equity, highlighting examples of the more than 650 actions agencies have undertaken since the release of their 2022 Equity Action Plans. These actions include reducing discrimination in the housing market, advancing environmental justice and investing in disadvantaged communities. They also include addressing health disparities, mitigating disparities in maternal health outcomes in communities of color and supporting and investing in rural communities. Each federal agency also shared their individual 2023 Equity Action Plans, which feature more than 100 community-informed strategies and actions to address systemic barriers in federal policies and programs. To view a specific agency’s Equity Action Plan, click here. 
S.1840 – SCREENS for Cancer Act
This bill, introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin [D-WI], would reauthorize the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which provides public education, outreach, patient navigation, and care coordination to ensure equitable access to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services in low-income and uninsured communities. The program supports partnerships between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state departments of health to address SDoH barriers to care and reduce disparities in rates of breast and cervical cancer in underserved populations. The bill passed the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.
H.R.7212 – PEER Support Act
This bill was introduced by Representative Andreas Salinas [D-OR] to address workforce shortages in the field and expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment. The bill would establish the Office of Recovery within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This Office would be tasked with training, educating and supporting the professional development of peer support specialists and recommending career pathways for peer support specialists. It would also direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a study to research states’ screening processes for prospective peer support specialists that may pose undue barriers to their certification and to provide evidence-based recommendations for overcoming those barriers. Finally, it would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to officially recognize peer support specialists as a profession, which would help ensure accurate data reporting on the field. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
S.3751 – Rural Veterans Transportation to Care Act
Introduced by Senator Jon Ossoff [D-GA], this bill would expand transportation options for veterans living in rural areas to get to Veterans Affairs (VA) health facilities by reauthorizing the VA Highly Rural Transportation Grant (HRTG) Program for five years and adding Tribal Organizations as entities eligible to apply for the program. The HRTG Program provides transportation services in areas with less than seven people per square mile and is available at no cost for veterans who live in eligible areas. The bill would expand the VA’s definition to ensure more counties are eligible for the grant program, allowing more veterans living in rural areas to get transportation to the VA or VA-authorized health care facilities. It would also increase the maximum amount of funding grant recipients are eligible for when purchasing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant vehicles. The bill was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

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