Aligning for Health is made up of stakeholders who recognize that health is connected to more than just access to medical services, and that government programs meant to promote the well-being of low-income Americans are too fragmented to effectively promote health.
There is a significant body of academic work showing that economic and social conditions have a powerful impact on individual and population health outcomes as well as health care costs. Non-clinical factors such as housing, food assistance, income, employment status, education and transportation have the potential to contribute to health outcomes more than clinical health care. One study found that 10 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. are due to clinical health care, while social and environmental factors account for 20 percent. Yet the vast majority of federal spending goes towards health care.
Governors, public health officials and Medicaid Directors throughout the country have engaged in efforts to address the cost of health care by integrating more social determinants of health into their approach to Medicaid. Unfortunately, the way that the funds flow from the federal government to states creates significant barriers to cross-agency and cross-program cooperation. The people who run state programs agree that the greatest challenge to realizing a holistic approach to addressing high-need, high-cost populations is the fragmented nature of federal and state funding.
Though a combination of research and data collection, direct advocacy, coalition building, and media outreach, AFH seeks to energize stakeholders and the Administration on the need to test whether a more flexible federal regulatory and funding framework will allow states, counties, and other stakeholders to implement pilot programs to address the whole-person needs of Medicaid beneficiaries.