On June 29, 2022, the House Committee on Appropriations released the Report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies for Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations. The report includes specific instructions with respect to the appropriated amounts.
Aligning for Health was thrilled to see the many inclusions to support forward movement in addressing social determinants of health, health equity, and maternal health. Notable language in the report includes:
- CDC – Social Determinants of Health. —The Committee includes an increase of $92,000,000 to award competitive grants to State, local, territorial, or tribal jurisdictions to support the development of Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans, the implementation of those plans, and to improve the health of Medicaid beneficiaries. Such plans should include a description of the health and social outcome objectives of the Social Determinants Accelerator Plan; identify target 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 Accelerator Plans.
- CMS – Utilization of Z Codes for Social Determinants of Health. —The Committee commends CMS for publishing a report on the Utilization of Z codes for SDOH among Medicare FFS beneficiaries. As the report notes, the COVID–19 pandemic has disproportionately affected underserved communities. The Committee is concerned about whether the current Z codes definitions are expansive and specific enough to track the SDOH impacting underserved communities. To help reduce these barriers, the Committee encourages HHS to update the current Z code definitions and establish a national standard to review SDOH to ensure physicians nationwide use the same tools to analyze SDOH. The Committee requests a briefing within 180 days of the date of enactment of this Act on the current utilization of Z codes, how HHS suggests the Z codes definitions could be updated to better track SDOH impacting underserved communities and recommendations on how to increase the utilization of Z codes.
- CMS – Social Determinants of Health Analytics. —The Committee is encouraged that Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) have stated an intent to employ strategies to address SDOH, and the Committee supports work on SDOH given historic inequities that have existed among at-risk populations like communities of color and rural communities. However, in constructing SDOH-based recommendations for beneficiaries, many health plans are regularly using what is described as ‘‘consumer data,’’ which includes clinical, social, economic, behavioral, and environmental data that is individually identified, sometimes combining or allowing other entities to combine it with protected medical information governed by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The Committee requests a report within 180 days of the date of enactment of this Act on efforts by CMS to ensure the transparency by MA and MCO plans in the use of data of beneficiaries in addressing SDOH, how CMS ensures that MA and MCO plans notify beneficiaries of the use of protected or consumer data, and how ongoing CMS work with MA and MCOs around SDOH and the use of consumer data and protected medical information aligns with and improves health equity as per the goals of Executive Order 13985 and the HHS’s Equity Action Plan.
- HHS Office of the Secretary – Social Determinants of Health. —The Committee directs the Social Determinants Council created by House Report 116–450 to continue to provide technical assistance to jurisdictions in this program. The Committee requests a report within 90 days of the date of enactment of this Act on the status of the selection of all Council members.
- CDC – Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH). — The Committee includes a total increase of $10,000,000 to continue scaling this program to all States and territories, and to support grantees in building capacity for collaboration and disseminating evidence-based strategies in communities. REACH is a vital initiative to help eliminate healthcare disparities in minority communities. The Committee’s recommended level includes an increase of $4,000,000 for Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country.
- HRSA – Addressing Emerging Issues and Social Determinants of Maternal Health. — The Committee includes $10,000,000 to create an innovation fund for community-based organizations to support reducing maternal mortality and adverse maternal outcomes, as described in the fiscal year 2023 budget request. Projects may include expanding access to maternal mental health and SUD services, providing resources to address social determinants of maternal health, developing digital tools to enhance maternal health care, and technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models for pregnant and postpartum women.
Below, we have pulled notable report language related to social determinants of health, health equity, and maternal health that were included as part of this report for the HHS Office of the Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Health, CMS, CDC, SAMHSA, HRSA, HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH), and HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).AFH - FY23 House Appropriations Report Summary - 29 June 2022