Rep. Robin Kelly Introduces Health Equity and Accountability Act, Includes SDAA

On April 26, 2022, Reb. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) of 2022 (H.R. 7585), which would address social determinants of health, reduce racial and ethnic health inequities, improve access for underserved communities, address maternal health, and more.

Aligning for Health appreciates Rep. Kelly’s leadership on this legislation, and was particularly excited to see the inclusion of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act within this package. The provision included within HEAA would establish an interagency council on social determinants of health and award grants to eligible entities for the development of social determinants accelerator plans.

For more information on the Health Equity and Accountability Act, see the press release, one-pager, and section-by-section.

2022-04-27T14:44:07+00:00April 27th, 2022|Press, Press Release|

Aligning for Health submits comments to Senate HELP Committee leaders in response to PREVENT Pandemics Act request for comments

On Friday, February 4, Aligning for Health sent a letter to Senate HELP Committee leadership in response to request for comments on the discussion draft of the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act).

Aligning for Health strongly supports the Committee’s inclusion of Section 201, Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Improving Health Outcomes, in the discussion draft. In its comments, Aligning for Health encouraged the Committee to consider including bipartisan legislation that would further promote interoperable network development and data sharing; development of evidence-based approaches to coordinate services and improve outcomes; and strengthen capacity to identify and address disparities across sectors.

To read the letter, click here.

2022-02-07T15:18:32+00:00February 7th, 2022|Press, Press Release|

More than 50 organizations send letter to Senate HELP Committee requesting the inclusion of the LINC to Address Social Needs Act in the PREVENT Pandemics Act legislative package

Today, 54 organizations sent a letter to Senate HELP Committee Chair Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Burr (R-NC) in response to the request for comments on the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act). This bipartisan legislation is focused on strengthening the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the wake of COVID-19.

Section 201 of the PREVENT Pandemics Act discussion draft focused on addressing social determinants of health and improving health outcomes. To strengthen this section of the bill, this stakeholder letter asked the committee to consider including the bipartisan LINC to Address Social Needs Act (S. 509/H.R. 6072) in the final legislative text of the PREVENT Pandemics Act.

While Section 201 of the draft includes elements of the LINC to Address Social Needs Act, including the entirety of this legislation would provide increased and dedicated funding to support cross-sector, interoperable efforts to coordinate and address health-related social needs for those most vulnerable to the impacts of the current and future pandemics.

The letter can be found here and below:

AFH Stakeholder Letter - PREVENT Pandemics Act - 4 Feb 2022
2022-02-04T21:37:23+00:00February 4th, 2022|Press, Press Release|

Poised for Progress: Policymakers Lay the Foundation for Continued Momentum on SDOH

As 2021 draws to a close and we look towards 2022, we reflect on the incredible foundation laid by policymakers this year to improve health and wellbeing for all by creating opportunities and lowering barriers to addressing social determinants of health (SDOH).

2021 started off with the release of long-anticipated guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlining opportunities for state Medicaid and CHIP agencies to address social determinants. Additionally, as part of its overarching efforts to advance health equity, the Biden-Harris Administration awarded $3 million in grant funding to state and local governments across the country to develop Social Determinant Accelerator Plans, and requested $153 million in funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Determinants of Health program; issued several reports on SDOH interventions and data sharing; announced plans to embed health equity and address social needs throughout its Innovation Center models and Medicaid and CHIP and issued a request for information on how alternative payment models can incent the collections of SDOH and health equity data; and incorporated SDOH assessment standards into version two of the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability, among many other exciting steps.

Meanwhile, from January through mid-December 2021, over 270 bills related to SDOH were introduced in Congress – 150 bills related specifically to SDOH, 48 related to health equity, and 75 related to maternal and infant health. Legislation like the Social Determinants Accelerator Act (H.R. 2503/S. 3039) and the LINC to Address Social Needs Act (S. 509/H.R. 6072), among others, have potential to make a significant impact in this space by facilitating cross-sector coordination and the collecting, reporting, and exchange of health and social needs data.

There have also been a number of hearings to consider legislation to address SDOH and advance health equity. The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing entitled “Improving Health Equity and Outcomes by Addressing Health Disparities,” which focused on health inequities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health held a legislative hearing entitled “Empowered by Data: Legislation to Advance Equity and Public Health” to discuss what actionable steps Congress can take now to improve access to, and the coordination of, public health, health care and social services. The Subcommittee and Full Committee proceeded to hold markups of multiple bills that would address social determinants in important ways, and in December, the House passed two bipartisan bills, the CARING for Social Determinants Act of 2021 (H.R. 3894), and the Social Determinants of Health Data Analysis Act (H.R. 4026).

Additional activity around social determinants of health and health equity in Congress included: House Ways & Means Committee release of its framework to achieve health and economic equity, entitled “A Bold Vision for a Legislative Path Toward Health and Economic Equity”; the creation of the House Ways & Means Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative (REI)  and working group to address the role of racism and other forms of discrimination in perpetuating health inequities; a Senate Finance Committee request for information on evidence-based solutions to improve maternal health; and a hearing held by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the maternal health crisis, entitled “Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis.” Finally, Representative McGovern (D-MA), the Chair of the House Rules Committee, held a series of roundtables and hearings on Ending Hunger in America to shine a light on the hunger crisis in the US and develop ideas to tackle this problem both legislatively and administratively.

This year also brought about the launch of the bipartisan Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus, which will explore opportunities to improve the impact of services delivered to address social determinants with the support of federal funding and amplify evidence-based approaches to holistic well-being. Since its launch in July, the Caucus has held a public launch event and a briefing on transportation as a social determinant, and solicited public comment on challenges and opportunities related to SDOH through a request for information that resulted in hundreds of responses.

As we reflect on the progress made in the past year, we look forward to continuing to work alongside the Administration and Congress to keep this momentum going in 2022 and beyond.

2021-12-16T20:58:37+00:00December 16th, 2021|Press|

CDC selects 20 recipients to award funding through Closing the Gap with SDOH Accelerator Plans

Aligning for Health is thrilled that the CDC has made its selections for the recipients of the Closing the Gap with Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans planning grants. CDC selected 20 recipients across the country that will receive these awards, which will use this funding to accelerate implementation of public health strategies that are proven to improve chronic disease outcomes for individuals impacted by health disparities and inequities.

These awards will be used by recipients to organize a Leadership Team consisting of multisectoral partners to develop an implementation-ready SDOH Accelerator Plan. The purpose of these plans is to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities related to chronic disease in a tribal jurisdiction, community, or catchment area.

We look forward to seeing how these planning grants will set the foundation for accelerating cross-sector, evidence-based social determinants activities across the country. To view the recipients of these awards, click here.

2021-09-29T18:06:45+00:00September 29th, 2021|Press, Press Release|

Aligning for Health Submits Comments to the Congressional SDOH Caucus RFI

Aligning for Health was pleased to submit comments in response to the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus request for information regarding challenges and opportunities in addressing social determinants of health.

Aligning for Health commented on specific SDOH challenges that most impact health, and how these areas have changed or been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; prominent barriers to addressing SDOH and innovative examples, both from Aligning for Health members and other organizations, of programs that can offer solutions; and the role that coordinated networks can play in cross-sector coordination and data sharing.

We also provided recommendations on how Congress can leverage existing opportunities to improve coordination and alignment between health and social services organizations; existing legislative approaches that seek to improve coordination, capacity and evaluation of SDOH initiatives; and policies and strategies to better coordinate eligibility and enrollment processes for cross-sector programs.

To read the full response, see below or click here.

Aligning for Health - SDOH Caucus RFI Response - 21 Sept - Final
2021-09-22T17:31:52+00:00September 22nd, 2021|Press, Press Release|

Launch of the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus – Webinar Recording

On July 21, Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) held a public webinar to launch the bipartisan Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus.

Aligning for Health is proud to support the bipartisan Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus. The webinar featured remarks from the bipartisan caucus co-chairs, Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), along with panel remarks from the following experts on the value this caucus will bring to addressing SDOH from the health and community-based organization perspective:

  • Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA
  • Karin VanZant, Vice President, National Social Determinants of Health Strategy, CareSource
  • Krista Drobac, Co-Chair, Aligning for Health (moderator)
Webinar Recording
Caucus Website

The Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus will bring together Members of Congress from disparate jurisdictions to highlight opportunities for coordination across federal investments in health, public health, food, housing, transportation, and other important drivers of health.

Caucus members are requesting comments from stakeholders through September 21 on challenges and opportunities related to social determinants of health. 

2021-07-23T16:14:39+00:00July 22nd, 2021|Press|

House Appropriations Committee proposed key SDOH provisions in FY22 Appropriations Report

Aligning for Health is thrilled that the House Appropriations Committee has proposed significant funding and support for addressing Social Determinants of Health throughout its Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations legislation. Today, the full Committee approved the Appropriations bill, which was previously approved by the Labor-HHS Subcommittee on July 12 and will now advance to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The Committee also released the FY22 Report, which includes more details on the funding amounts.

Notably, the Committee matched President Biden’s request of $153M for CDC’s Social Determinants of Health program; a portion of that funding will continue to go towards Social Determinants Accelerator Grants. The Committee also included instructions for HHS to continue to implement the Social Determinants Accelerator Council, as was included by reference in the FY21 Appropriations Report.

Below is the language included in the Report on the Accelerator Grants and the SDOH Council.

  • CDC – Social Determinants of Health.—The Committee includes an increase of $150,000,000 for investments in social determinants of health (SDOH) to improve health equity. The Committee includes funding to expand activities to address SDOH in States, local, tribal and territorial jurisdictions to improve outcomes among persons experiencing health disparities and inequalities, including, but not limited to, expanding and implementing Accelerator Plans, initiating a SDOH implementation program, providing technical assistance to communities and continuing to build the evidence base and advance data collection to better understand health disparities. Social Determinants Accelerator Plans should include a description of the health and social outcome objectives; identify populations that would benefit from implementation of the plan, including Medicaid-eligible individuals; and identify non-governmental, private, or public health organizations and community organizations that would participate in the development of the plan. Grantees may use a portion of grant funding to convene government entities, public and private stakeholders, and to engage qualified research experts in developing Social Determinants Accelerator Plans.
  • HHS – Social Determinants of Health Council.—The Committee directs the Social Determinants Council created by H. Rpt. 116–450 to continue to provide technical assistance to State, local, and tribal jurisdictions seeking to develop Social Determinants Accelerator Plans. The Committee directs a report be submitted, no later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, regarding the status of the selection of all Council members outlined in H. Rpt. 116–450.

Additionally, there were several other notable provisions related to social determinants, health equity, and maternal health. Highlights include:

  • CMS – Social Determinants of Health.—The Committee is aware that social determinants of health are critical drivers of health outcomes and health care costs and that early childhood development is affected by social factors. The Committee commends CMS for the guidance on social determinants issued to States in January 2021 and encourages CMS to continue to clarify and disseminate strategies that States can implement under current Medicaid and CHIP authority, or through waivers, to address social determinants of health in the provision of health care, including strategies specifically targeting the pediatric population. This should include guidance on how States can encourage and incentivize managed care organizations to address social determinants of health through contracts.
  • CMS – Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs. — The Committee recognizes the wide range of improved outcomes and cost-savings that evidence-based home visiting programs provide to first-time mothers and their children. Additionally, in light of the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic on care and the rising rates of maternal and infant health disparities among families of color, the need for quality supports in the home is even greater, especially for mothers and babies. The Committee is pleased that CMS is assisting States that choose to design a Medicaid benefit package to provide home visiting services for pregnant and postpartum women, and for families with young children. The Committee urges CMS to continue to build upon its 2016 Joint Informational Bulletin to clearly articulate how Medicaid dollars can be blended and braided appropriately in home visiting programs to reach eligible families, provide streamlined coverage options for home visiting services, and cover specific components of home visiting programs.
  • HHS Office of the Secretary – Data Collection to Measure Disparities.—The Committee recognizes that geographic place is a powerful predictor of social determinants of health. The Committee is concerned that due to residential segregation and subsequent disinvestment, the lack of access to health care, safe recreational facilities, quality education, and other resources, is often magnified in highly segregated communities. To fully assess population health, distribution of disease, and the extent of health disparities, health services data should be collected based on residency as opposed to where services are provided. A similar approach was taken to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Committee recommends that all health services data include racial and ethnic data by subgroup, geographic indicators to the lowest levels (i.e., zip code tabulation area), nationality, sex, age, and primary language. This data should be collected in a standardized, uniform manner and include with it the capacity for linkages to various federal data sets. The Committee requests a report within 120 days of enactment of this Act describing the specific steps taken to ensure that geographic disparities were measured in COVID–19 data collection, documentation, and reporting from health care providers to public health agencies. The report shall also include recommendations to sustain data harmonization efforts to expand reporting for all infectious diseases and chronic health conditions and to address emergency prevention preparedness and response in the event of additional future pandemics and other catastrophes.
  • HHS Office of the Secretary – National Center on Antiracism and Health Equity.—The Committee strongly supports efforts to advance health equity and reduce disparities for communities of color. The Committee supports the Office of Minority Health (OMH) and its efforts to advance health equity—however, the Committee believes the OMH currently lacks sufficient capacity to lead a broad and bold effort to address health disparities and that HHS should establish a National Center on Antiracism and Health Equity (Center) within the Department to lead efforts to identify and understand the policies and practices that have a disparate impact on the health and well-being of communities of color. The Committee directs the Secretary to submit a report, not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act, that provides detailed proposals to establish a National Center on Antiracism and Health Equity within the Department. The proposals shall include (1) a charter and goals for a National Center on Antiracism and Health Equity; (2) rationale for creating a new entity within the Department or restructuring an existing entity; (3) budgetary resources necessary to establish the Center; (4) the number of full-time equivalent employees needed to effectively carry out the Center’s mission; (5) the resources needed for the Center to establish, through grants or cooperative agreements, at least three regional centers of excellence, located in racial and ethnic minority communities; (6) the resources needed to award grants and cooperative agreements to eligible public and nonprofit private entities, including community-based organizations, to collaborate with underserved communities and for research and collection, analysis, and reporting of data on the public health impacts of health disparities; and (7) the resources needed for the Center to work with eligible public and nonprofit private entities, including community-based organizations, to provide information and education to the public on the public health impacts of health disparities and on health equity interventions, among other details.
  • Assistant Secretary for Health – Health and Housing Initiatives.—The Committee is aware of promising initiatives developed by non-profit community groups in collaboration with local health systems and housing authorities that are targeted at homeless and precariously housed individuals who are high utilizers of medical care provided at hospital emergency departments. These programs work across different areas of core competency to provide safe, affordable housing together with ancillary medical, behavioral, substance use disorder, nutritional and employment or job training services. Participants demonstrate significant improvements in their health, sustainable incomes, and reduced use of emergency department and other expensive medical services. The Committee encourages the Department to support these types of initiatives through research, innovation models, health workforce and homeless programs, and other appropriate initiatives.
  • HRSA – Alliance for Maternal Health Safety Bundles.—The Committee includes $14,300,000, an increase of $5,300,000 above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level and the same as the fiscal year 2022 budget request, to support continued implementation of the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Program’s maternal safety bundles to all U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, as well as tribal entities. Maternal safety bundles are a set of targeted and evidence-based best practices that, when implemented, improve patient outcomes and reduce maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity
  • SAMHSA – Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH). – The Committee includes an increase of $10,000,000 for the PATH program, which supports grants to States and territories for assistance to individuals suffering from severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders and who are experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Grants may be used for outreach, screening and diagnostic treatment services, rehabilitation services, community mental health services, alcohol or drug treatment services, training, case management services, supportive and supervisory services in residential settings, and a limited set of housing services.
  • AHRQ – Research on Health Equity.—The Committee includes an increase of $3,000,000 for AHRQ to support investigator-initiated research grants related to health equity and an additional $1,000,000 to support research supplements related to health equity, the same as the fiscal year 2022 budget request.

A full list of provisions related to social determinants, health equity, and maternal health can be found here.

2021-07-15T20:28:41+00:00July 15th, 2021|Press|

Aligning for Health Submits Statement for the Record for House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health Hearing on SDOH

On Thursday, June 24, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health held a legislative hearing entitled “Empowered by Data: Legislation to Advance Equity and Public Health.” Aligning for Health is thrilled that the Subcommittee convened this hearing to examine the importance of legislation to advance equity and public health.

We strongly support the Committee’s efforts to assess and discuss what actionable steps Congress can take now to improve access to, and the coordination of, public health, health care and social services. Improving data sharing and the delivery and coordination of care across public health, health care, and social service sectors will help to address upstream social factors, address unmet social needs, and improve health outcomes for all.

Aligning for Health submitted a statement for the record to the Committee outlining how social determinants impact health outcomes and drive health inequities, and the importance of cross-sector coordination and how bipartisan bills such as the Social Determinants Accelerator Act (H.R. 2503) can help address this. We also outline the importance of collecting, reporting, and exchange of health and social needs data, and how legislation such as the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act (S. 509) would provide funding to states to catalyze, establish, and augment efforts to better connect and share information across sectors.

To read the full statement for the record, click here.

2021-06-24T15:24:25+00:00June 24th, 2021|Press|

Western Governors’ Association Endorses Social Determinants Accelerator Act

Aligning for Health is excited to announce that the Western Governors’ Association, an independent organization representing the Governors of the 22 westernmost states and territories, has endorsed the Social Determinants Accelerator Act (H.R. 4004) and sent a letter in support of the Social Determinants Accellerator Act to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Walden (R-OR).

The Western Governors’ Association joins several other state and local government organizations in supporting the Social Determinants Accelerator Act – legislation that would empower states, localities, and tribal organizations to design right-sized interventions to meet their unique community needs.

For a full list of SDAA supporters, click here.

Press Release
WGA Letter to E & C
2022-04-20T21:30:41+00:00March 9th, 2020|Press, Press Release|
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