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SDOH Advocacy Update - 04/22/2024

SDOH Advocacy Update - 04/22/2024

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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:

Household Food Insecurity Across Race and Ethnicity in the United States, 2016–21
This report summarizes annual USDA, Economic Research Service data on food insecurity across four racial and ethnic groups and extends these groups to include American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and multiracial groups to determine the extent and severity of food insecurity in U.S. households. The report outlines the prevalence of food insecurity in each of the nine racial and ethnic groups by household and individual characteristics. Broad findings include low household income is related to a higher prevalence of food insecurity for all racial and ethnic groups, but the prevalence of food insecurity for households below the Federal poverty line varies from 18% for Asian households to 47.8% for multiracial, American Indian-White households, across racial and ethnic groups. Read the full report here.

To close racial gap in maternal health, some states take aim at implicit bias
This article details the valuable input from Black medical professionals who experience the harmful and often life-threatening effects of racial disparities in maternal health. Research indicates pervasive biases in health care contribute to higher mortality rates among Black and Indigenous women, yet legislation for implicit bias training faces hurdles in some states, highlighting the ongoing struggle to address racial disparities in maternal health. Input from experts in this article offers ways to combat these disparities such as in-depth implicit bias training beginning at an organizational level.

Keeping It Political and Powerful: Defining the Structural Determinants of Health
This article argues for a broader understanding of the social determinants of health, which they call the structural determinants of health, that makes clear the need to address the forces and systems that maintain inequity and defines this work as a political endeavor. The structural determinants of health are defined as the rules that create, maintain or eliminate durable and hierarchical patterns of advantage among socially constructed groups in the conditions that affect health, and the manifestation of power relations that people and groups with more power in social structures work to maintain their advantage. The article goes on to say that recognition of structural determinants can result in an analysis of the root causes of health inequity by highlighting public health’s role in shifting power relations and engaging politically.

Governors’ Health Priorities in 2024 State of the State Addresses
The National Governors Association reports the health priorities of governors across the nation as discussed in the 2024 State of the State Addresses. These addresses highlighted the need for investments in health and well-being for state residents. Key concerns among governors included enhancing behavioral health provisions, reinforcing public health systems, crafting policies to enhance maternal and child health results, strengthening health care personnel, and broadening access to essential services, particularly in rural and marginalized areas.

SDoH Advocacy Update:

During Second Chance Month, HRSA Takes Policy Action, Releases First-Ever Funding Opportunity for Health Centers to Support Transitions in Care for People Leaving Incarceration
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced the availability of $51 million for the first-ever funding opportunity for HRSA-funded health centers to better support transitions in care for people leaving incarceration. HRSA’s updated policy allows health centers to provide health services to incarcerated individuals who are expected or scheduled to be released from a carceral setting within 90 days to help ensure continuity of care as people move home to their communities. Grant funding can be used for managing chronic conditions and addressing mental health and substance use disorder treatment needs. Health centers can also use this new funding to provide case management services that address key social drivers of health, such as housing and food insecurity, financial strain, access to transportation and intimate partner violence. This opportunity is aligned with the White House Second Chance Initiative and builds on previous work the Department of Health and Human Services has done to support justice-involved individuals. 

H.R.7815 – Mamas and Babies in Underserved Communities Act of 2024
This bill, introduced by Representative Maxine Waters [D-CA], would expand and improve maternal health care services. The bill would direct HRSA to establish a grant program for public or nonprofit private health care providers that serve one or more minority, low-income or medically underserved communities. Priority for grant funding would be given to organizations who are led by individuals who have lived, were educated, or currently reside in the communities served or are geographically located in the communities served. Grant funding would be used to improve health outcomes for women and infants and reduce disparities in access to and quality of prenatal care, postnatal care for infants and postpartum care for mothers. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

S.4065 – Equal Health Care for All Act
This bill was introduced by Senator Alex Padilla [D-CA] to address structural and systemic inequities in America’s health care system. The bill would require the creation of a publicly available repository of disaggregated data on health care outcomes and the inclusion of quality measures of equitable health care in hospital value-based purchasing programs. It formalizes the definition of inequitable care as that which fails to meet a high-quality care standard and is discriminatory in intent or effect based on race, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability status, age or religion. Under the bill, health care providers that have been shown to exhibit a pattern of inequitable care could be excluded from Medicare or Medicaid payment and all providers would be required to provide a notice of patient rights. It would also create an Office of Civil Rights and Health Equity within the Department of Health and Human Services that would receive and investigate complaints of inequitable care. Finally, it would provide grants to hospitals to expand programs aimed at providing equitable health care and would establish a Federal Health Equity Commission to track progress on reducing disparities. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. 

S.4060 – Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act
Introduced by Senator Cory Booker [D-NJ], this bill works to improve maternal health care and support for pregnant individuals who are incarcerated. The bill provides funding to create maternal health programs for incarcerated individuals, including access to culturally congruent care, healthy food and nutrition and mental health and substance use counseling. Pretrial diversion programs as an alternative to incarceration for pregnant and postpartum individuals and re-entry assistance could also be established. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to submit a report to Congress on adverse maternal and infant health outcomes among incarcerated individuals and infants born to such individuals, with a particular focus on racial and ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes for incarcerated individuals. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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