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SDOH Advocacy Update 06/03/2024

SDOH Advocacy Update 06/03/2024

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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 June 03, 2024 news on social drivers and advocacy updates below:

Social Drivers in the News:

Housing As a Health-Related Social Need: Lessons From North Carolina’s Healthy Opportunities Pilots 
North Carolina’s health impact service the Healthy Opportunities Pilots is leveraging Medicaid funds to support housing needs, rent coverage and case management, as part of broader efforts to address health-related social needs. The Pilots program targets Medicaid enrollees and provides various services, from housing support to nutrition and transportation. Through this program, the Pilots have shown the importance of building a strong network with community-based organizations (CBOs) and network leads in service delivery, starting small and scaling services gradually, and facilitating collaboration between health and housing agencies. The state is currently seeking to renew, expand and make key changes to its Healthy Opportunities Pilot program for another five-year period.
Re-Envisioning CCDF: Towards an Anti-Racist Child Care System that Serves Families and Educators
This brief from the National Women’s Center advocates for an anti-racist universal childcare system, addressing systemic inequalities within and beyond CCDF through equitable funding, expanded eligibility, reduced costs, and improved quality standards. Childcare in the United States is increasingly recognized as a vital public good through supporting child development, family financial stability and economic growth. However, federal funding through The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) reaches only a fraction of eligible families and is subject to annual appropriations. Structural racism and sexism have led to underinvestment in childcare, particularly affecting families of color and low-income families. A fully funded childcare system is seen as essential for economic prosperity, poverty reduction and advancing gender and racial equity. The brief offers a historical overview of CCDF, sets new goals, and provides six policy recommendations for a more just childcare system.
Food Insecurity Increased for the Second Year Straight in 2023 
Data from the Urban Institute's survey of more than 7,500 adults found that food insecurity increased for the second consecutive year, affecting over one in four adults, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. In 2023, US households faced ongoing challenges affording food due to rising prices and the expiration of temporary safety net expansions, despite moderated inflation. Lower-income households were particularly impacted, with more than half reporting food insecurity. Black and Hispanic/Latinx adults also faced significantly higher rates of food insecurity. Additionally, households with children, LGBT adults and low-income renters experienced heightened food insecurity. While charitable food assistance remained consistent, many food-insecure households were unaware of or uncomfortable accessing these resources. 
New AANHPI Resource Guides Now Available
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) has released a set of newly translated resource guides providing guidance on best practices to advance cultural competency, language access and sensitivity toward Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities in the context of the federal COVID-19 response. This set of guides was developed in alignment with the Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The set includes an introductory document and three guides that are now available in English, Chinese (Simplified), Hawaiian, Korean, Marshallese, Samoan, and Vietnamese. 

SDoH Advocacy Update:

TRCC’s Equity Legislation Monitor for 118th Congress
TRCC’s Equity Legislation Monitor (ELM) was developed by TRCC to identify priority issues affecting health disparities and relevant legislation that address them. The ELM provides updates and pertinent information on research, news and legislation in eight priority areas: digital equity; environment and climate change; gun violence prevention; housing; maternal health; nutrition and food security; rural health; and payment models

Maternal Mental Health Task Force Announces National Strategy
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced the release of a national strategy, with recommendations developed by the Task Force on Maternal Mental Health, a subcommittee of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Advisory Committee for Women’s Services, to address the urgent public health crisis of maternal mental health and substance use issues. In the national strategy, the task force calls for a better integration of perinatal mental health and substance use care across medical, community and social systems to increase equity and access, improve federal coordination and elevate culturally relevant supports and trauma-informed approaches. Building upon existing federal government efforts, the task force outlines a path to achieve the vision in the national strategy within a framework of five core pillars. These five pillars of the national strategy focus on: building a national infrastructure that prioritizes perinatal mental health and well-being, with a focus on reducing disparities; making care and services accessible, affordable and equitable; using data and research to improve outcomes and accountability; promoting prevention and engaging, educating and partnering with communities; and lifting up the voices of people with lived experience.

H.R.8199 - Increasing Nutrition Access for Seniors Act
This bill was introduced by Representative Yadira Caraveo [D-CO] to make it easier for eligible seniors to access nutrition benefits to reduce hunger and improve health outcomes. The bill would extend the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) certification period to 36 months if a household with elderly or disabled members has no earned income as well as allow state agencies to use data matches to determine qualification. It would also allow state agencies to establish a standard medical deduction option for elderly or disabled household members to self-attest to having medical expenses of more than $35/month each year that could be adjusted over time to reflect changes in medical care costs. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.

H.R.7924 - ACCESS in Mental Health Act
This bill was introduced by Representative Jamaal Bowman [D-NY] to address provider shortages and diversify the mental and behavioral health professional workforce. The bill would establish a grant program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) including Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to create, expand, or improve graduate programs in mental health fields. These fields include psychology, counseling, social work, psychiatry, school-based mental health professions and substance use disorder prevention and treatment. It would also establish a grant program for students pursuing graduate degrees in mental health fields at HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs to help cover tuition costs. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

S.4304 - Mamas First Act
This bill was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] to mitigate the maternal health crisis in the U.S. It would increase access to doula and midwifery care, which is associated with cost savings, decreased rates of intervention, lower cesarean rates, lower preterm birth rates and healthier outcomes for mothers and babies. The bill would amend the Social Security Act to allow for Medicaid reimbursement of doulas, midwives and tribal midwives. It would also require prenatal, delivery and postpartum care be provided in a culturally congruent manner, with consideration given to cultural values, beliefs, worldview, language, and practices of the patient. The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.

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