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Social Determinants News Updates September 7-20, 2019

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Aligning for Health’s Social Determinants Updates newsletter. We hope it will be a helpful and informative biweekly compilation of news, reports, events, and opportunities.

News Clips and Reports

Modern Healthcare: (9/19) – The Urban Institute conducted interviews with MA insurers, health insurance experts and social services providers findings that plans were slow to expand benefits to address social determinants despite recent CMS changes to increase benefit flexibilities.

Institute for Medicaid Innovation: (9/19) – The Institute for Medicaid Innovation released its 2019 Annual Medicaid MCO Survey, which found that 78 percent of all Medicaid MCO respondents indicated that they offer targeted social determinant of health programs.

Signify Health: (9/19) Equity Health and Signify Health launched a new integrated platform that will facilitate collaboration among healthcare providers and community-based organizations (CBOs) to create ‘whole person health’ teams for underserved and at-risk populations.


2019-09-23T14:45:39+00:00September 23rd, 2019|SDoH Updates|

HCSC Joins as New Member, NACo Joins Advisory Board for Aligning for Health

Aligning for Health is excited to announce the newest member of the coalition, Health Care Service Corporation. HCSC is the largest customer-owned health insurer in the United States and fourth largest overall, serving more than 16 million members across 5 states.

We are also delighted to welcome the National Association of Counties to our advisory board. NACo is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States.

We look forward to working with both organizations as we continue to advance policy proposals that test the idea that the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations can be improved by better aligning programs and services addressing the social determinants of health.

2019-09-20T17:39:09+00:00September 20th, 2019|Press, Press Release|

H.R. 4004 Lauded as an Important Opportunity to Advance Social Determinants Efforts by Experts at Alliance for Health Policy Event

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act (SDAA) was praised as an important opportunity to help advance state and local efforts to address social determinants during Alliance for Health Policy’s “What’s Next on Social Determinants of Health” event on the Hill last week. Karen DeSalvo, Len Nichols, Ana Novais, Samuel Ross, Kathy Stack, and William Young spoke at the event.

We applaud the speakers for sharing their leading work on the social determinants of health and the Alliance for Health Policy for helping to raise awareness about social determinants.

Full event video:

2019-09-19T21:34:15+00:00September 19th, 2019|Press, Press Release|

Led by America Forward, 30+ Organizations Express Support for Social Determinants Accelerator Act

America Forward, a leading coalition of local, state, and national organizations committed to investing in what works and advancing innovative and effective solutions to our country’s most pressing problems, led a group of over 30 organizations and individuals in a letter to Reps. Bustos (D-IL), Cole (R-OK), McGovern (D-MA) and McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) thanking them for their leadership on the Social Determinants Accelerator Act .

2019-08-28T11:44:23+00:00July 31st, 2019|Sign-On Letter|

Social Determinants Accelerator Act Introduction

Aligning for Health is proud to support the bipartisan introduction of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, which is sponsored by Reps. Bustos (D-IL), Cole (R-OK), McGovern (D-MA), McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and eight additional cosponsors. The Social Determinants Accelerator Act will support state and local officials in developing cross-sector approaches that address the environmental and social factors contributing to health outcomes.

2019-08-28T11:40:20+00:00July 25th, 2019|Press Release|

Social Determinants Accelerator Act Introduction Event

Aligning for Health is pleased to invite you on July 25, 2019 to the bipartisan introduction of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, a bill to support state and local officials in developing cross-sector approaches that address the environmental and social factors contributing to health outcomes.

2019-08-28T11:40:55+00:00July 19th, 2019|Invitation|

UNDERSTAND Act Letter of Support

Aligning for Health is proud to support the introduction of S. 1323, the Utilizing National Data, Effectively Reforming Standards and Tools, to Address Negative Determinants of Health (UNDERSTAND) Act, which would improve the collection of data related to the social determinants of health for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

2019-08-28T11:41:19+00:00June 17th, 2019|Sign-On Letter|

Leading D.C.-based Advocacy Group on Social Determinants of Health Announces Establishment of Advisory Board & Addition of New Members

WASHINGTON, DC (July 25, 2018): Aligning for Health, an advocacy coalition focused on the social determinants of health, has established an Advisory Board of leading experts on social determinants and groups representing states and counties, consumers, and housing, nutrition, public health and mental health programs. The Advisory Board will provide advice and recommendations to Aligning for Health as it continues to advance policy proposals that test the idea that the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations can be improved by better aligning programs and services addressing the social determinants of health.

Advisory Board:

  • Nicole Barcliff, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
  • Amy Clary, National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP)
  • Anne De Biasi, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH)
  • Theresa Eagleson, University of Illinois and former Illinois Medicaid Director
  • Jason Gromley, The Root Cause Coalition
  • Jason Helgerson, Helgerson Solutions Group and Former New York Medicaid Director
  • Jerold Mande, Tufts University, former Senior Advisor on Food/Nutrition, USDA
  • John McCarthy, Speire Healthcare Strategies, Former Medicaid Director in Ohio and the District of Columbia
  • John Rother, National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC)
  • Andrew Sperling, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • Tracy Wareing Evans, American Public Human Services Association (APHSA)
  • Ginger Zielinskie, Benefits Data Trust

“In order to advance the health and well-being of all people, we must work together to influence modern approaches to sound policy,” said Tracy Wareing-Evans, president and CEO of the American Public Human Services Association, “Utilizing frameworks like social determinants of health can help us move the health and human services systems upstream to focus on prevention and early interventions that enable all families to live healthy lives and thrive in their communities. I look forward to being a part of the Aligning for Health Advisory Board to help lead these efforts together.”

New Members:

Additionally, Aligning for Health is pleased to announce that the American Hospital Association, Anthem, and Amida Care have joined as members. All three organizations are dedicated to advancing policies and initiatives that help to best serve patients by addressing social determinants of health. AHA, Anthem, and Amida Care join Aligning for Health’s founding members: Alliance for Better Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, CareSource, Humana, Maxim Healthcare Services, Solera Health, UPMC Health Plan, and WellCare.

“Social factors greatly influence patients’ total health and wellbeing, encouraging hospitals and health systems to care for patients outside their four walls,” said Ashley Thompson, senior vice president for public policy at the American Hospital Association. “We are pleased to be supporting this work by joining other Aligning for Health partners in the effort to break down government silos so that federal funds can be used in innovative ways to provide comprehensive care to patients in our communities.”

Aligning for Health is made up of stakeholders who recognize that health is connected to more than just access to medical services. Studies estimate that social factors such as access to nutritious food, safe housing, and financial security account for nearly 70 percent of all health outcomes, and that addressing such social factors can have positive effects on health outcomes, healthcare costs and utilization.

Important safety-net programs meant to promote well-being are often fragmented, hindering holistic and innovative approaches to addressing consumers’ needs, and resulting in complex consumer experiences. Therefore, Aligning for Health (AFH) is seeking to improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care by developing a path forward for more effective and coordinated health and human service programs.

2019-08-28T12:15:08+00:00July 25th, 2018|Press Release|

Aligning for Health Launch in the Press

Politico Pulse:

New coalition will emphasize role of social services. A new coalition is launching today to advocate for better integration of social service programs into the health care system in order to bolster outcomes. Aligning for Health’s initial membership includes the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Solera Health and WellCare. The group plans to highlight the role that factors such as access to nutritious food and safe housing play in health.

Politico Influence:

NEW HEALTH COALITION LAUNCHES TO ADVOCATE FOR PILOT PROGRAMS: A new coalition of health care groups launched today to advocate for pilot programs intended to improve health outcomes for Medicaid recipients by taking into account the effect of social factors on health care. Members of the Aligning for Health Coalition, run out of Sirona Strategies, are Alliance for Better Health, BlueCross Blue Shield Association, CareSource, Humana, Maxim Healthcare Services, Solera, UPMC Health Plan andWellCare Health Plans.

— Krista Drobac, chairwoman of Aligning for Health, told PI that by testing the effect of other social services on Medicaid recipients, the programs could improve health and save money for the program. “There is a lot of discussion about social determinants, but there are a lot of federal barriers to taking action in integrating social determinants, and so it became increasingly clear that we needed a policy effort in Washington to create the space for pilots to exist,” she added. Among the federal barriers, Drobac said, is the lack of inter-departmental funding that would allow for the coordination of a pilot program between the Department of Health and Human Services and another department with social-service programs, like the Department of Agriculture. The group is calling for temporary funding authority for pilot programs that would require inter-departmental coordination.

Health Payer Intelligence:
By Thomas Beaton

March 28, 2018 – A group of commercial payers and other healthcare organizations have formed a coalition to explore how addressing the social determinants of health can lower care costs and improve outcomes.

A number of large payer companies have joined the Aligning for Health (AFH) coalition, including the BlueCross BlueShield Association, CareSource, Humana, UPMC Health Plan, and WellCare.

AFH stakeholders cited research that suggests social factors including access to healthy food, safe housing, and financial security account for nearly 70 percent of all health outcomes. Addressing these social factors can have positive effects on healthcare outcomes, costs, and utilization, the coalition said.

“Every day, Americans find themselves without access to critical medical care, healthy foods and safe housing, which leads to significant health risks,” Kim Holland, Vice President of state affairs for BlueCross BlueShield Association said.

“That’s why we’re proud to work with Aligning for Health to enact real change that will improve the overall well-being and health of our citizens while ensuring the efficient use of resources.”

Rhonda Mims, Senior Vice President and Chief Public Affairs Officer at WellCare, said that her organization is committed to focusing on healthcare issues for high-need, high-cost chronic conditions.

Mims told HealthPayerIntelligence.com via email that WellCare can supplement their current community outreach activities and social innovation programs by joining the AFH.

“In 2017, we referred 33,000 people to 106,000 community based-programs and services,” Mims said. “A 2016 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Coordinating Center for Public Health Systems and Services Research showed our model led to a 17 percent decrease in emergency department use, 26 percent reduction in emergency spending, a 53 percent decrease in inpatient spending, 23 percent decrease in outpatient spending.”

John Lovelace, President of Government Programs at UPMC Health Plan, added that working with AFH would allow his organization to enhance its current initiatives that address housing-related social determinants of health.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with like-minded organizations to explore new options to better serve members through creative blending of funding sources,” Lovelace told HealthPayerIntelligence.com. “We all recognize that outcomes of health care are much more dependent on issues such as interpersonal supports, an affordable residence, sufficient food and safe communities.”

The coalition will promote holistic healthcare solutions through policy and outreach. AFH will work to extend opportunities to local communities that help address social factors related to health.

“Through a combination of research, direct advocacy, coalition building, and media outreach, AFH seeks to energize stakeholders and policymakers around the need to test the impact of greater integration at the local level, specifically whether it leads to more effective leveraging of federal poverty and healthcare programs to improve well-being and to lower cost of care,” AFH said.

“Our primary goal is to develop a consensus-based, bipartisan policy proposal that will allow communities to apply for demonstration programs that permit, with guardrails, the blending and braiding of funds to address social determinants of health.”

2019-08-28T12:16:03+00:00March 29th, 2018|Press|
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