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Bipartisan Members of Congress Reintroduce Social Determinants Accelerator Act

WASHINGTON, DC (April 14, 2021)Aligning for Health, a coalition of leading health insurers, providers, and vendors, is proud to support the re-introduction of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced by Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK).

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 will help states and communities devise strategies to leverage existing programs and authorities to address all aspects of health, including food, housing, transportation, and workforce.

Economic and social conditions have a powerful impact on our health and wellness. Known as social determinants of health, a focus on these non-medical factors can improve health outcomes and wellbeing and address disparities. States, local, and Tribal governments are increasingly looking to develop and expand high-impact initiatives that encourage and incentivize collaboration between Medicaid programs and social services programs. However, state, local, and Tribal governments often face challenges in successfully implementing these initiatives due to difficulties in navigating fragmented and complex programs.

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 will provide planning grants and technical assistance to state, local, and Tribal governments who want to devise innovative, evidence-based approaches to coordinate programs and services to improve health and wellbeing for Medicaid beneficiaries.

The bipartisan legislation was previously introduced in the House in July 2019, and in the Senate in December 2019.

“Aligning for Health is proud to support the reintroduction of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act,” said Melissa Quick, co-chair of Aligning for Health, “The legislation will catalyze cross-sector collaboration and will give state and local officials the resources they need to get beyond the siloes and develop innovative solutions to complex problems.”

“CSH strongly supports the Social Determinants Accelerator Act,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), “The Supportive Housing Industry for decades has seen the impact on the health of our residents and potential residents, due to the lack of access to the SDOH including housing, food, and safe, thriving communities.  We have also seen the impact of systemic and institutional racism, that has made access to SDOH less likely for communities of color. We are hopeful that as communities have more accurate information and the ability to work more effectively across sectors, as supported by the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, the opportunities for those needs to be addressed will improve.”

“Our surroundings – including where we are born, live, work and age – all have an impact on our health. This is why we need better coordination of care with programs that seek to address health and social needs,” said Justine Handelman, senior vice president of the Office of Policy and Representation for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “We strongly support the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021, which will help communities work together to break down barriers, improve overall health and advance health equity.”

“As a health insurer committed to address health disparities, UPMC Health Plan strongly supports this common-sense, bipartisan bill which enhances the ability of the health care payers and providers to mitigate the causes of inequities with state collaborations,” said John Lovelace, President, Government Programs, UPMC Health Plan.  “In addition to providing new tools to states looking at these issues, the Social Determinants Accelerator Act provides more resources to enhance existing state and community-based partnerships to address health inequities.”

“LISC invests in quality affordable housing, safety, good education, job opportunities and financial stability because they all factor into the health and well-being of a community. We enthusiastically support the Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Act because it will help states devise approaches that leverage the expertise of partners from multiple sectors – including community based organizations – who are committed to advancing health equity and closing interconnected racial health and wealth gaps,” said Julia Ryan, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

“This Act is an impressive first step toward the prioritization of social needs as an essential component of preserving health and preventing (rather than treating) the consequences of unmet social needs such as food, housing, and transportation,” said Jacob Reider, Chief Executive Officer of Alliance for Better Health, “This work transcends benevolence:  it’s a good business decision for the Nation to prevent the suffering (and spending) that occurs when individuals’ social needs are neglected.”

“The America Forward Coalition includes 100+ social innovation organizations working every day, across the country to measurably improve lives. Through their work, we’ve seen that siloed systems of health and social service programs too often hinder effective partnerships with government, which could build evidence and scale effective approaches in early childhood, education, workforce development, and supportive housing services that make families and communities healthier. This much needed, bipartisan legislation will help unlock critical resources to fund prevention, encourage state and local innovation, build cross-sectoral partnerships, and make a real difference in people’s lives,” said Roger Low, Policy Director at America Forward and Aligning for Health Advisory Board Member.

About Aligning for Health – Aligning for Health members include: Alliance for Better Health, American Hospital Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, CareSource, Centene, HCSC, Signify Health, UPMC Health Plan, and Unite Us.

Additional information about Aligning for Health may be found at www.AligningforHealth.org.

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Supporting Organizations

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 has been endorsed by several organizations, including: Aligning for Health, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, Acelero Learning, Adagio Health, Alliance for Better Health, America Forward, American Association of Service Coordinators, America’s Essential Hospitals, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, America’s Promise Alliance, AMGA, Amida Care, Anthem, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Association of American Medical Colleges, Aurora Institute, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, CareSource, Centene, Children’s Hospital Association, Citizen Schools, City Year Inc., Corporation for Supportive Housing, Council on Social Work Education, Early Learning Alliance, Enterprise Community Partners, Forum for Youth Investment, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, GreenLight Fund, Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center, Healthcare Leadership Council, Humana, iMentor, Institute for Child Success, KidSucceed LLC, Let’s Grow Kids, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Lutheran Services in America, Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., Maycomb Capital Community Outcomes Fund, Medical Group Management Association, Molina, National Association of Accountable Care Organizations, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, National Association of Counties, National Association of Social Workers, National Coalition on Health Care, National League of Cities, Nemours Children’s Health System, New Profit, New Teacher Center, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Nurse-Family Partnership, Orange County Board of Supervisors, Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Penn Center for Community Health Workers, Primary Care Collaborative, Project Evident, Purchaser Business Group on Health, Quantified Ventures, REDF, Results for America, Roca, Share Our Strength, Signify Health, Single Stop, SNP Alliance, Social Finance, Solera, Springboard Collaborative, StriveTogether, The Community Transportation Association of America, Uber Health, UPMC Health Plan, URAC, Wyman Center, and YMCA of the USA.

2021-04-14T18:47:46+00:00April 14th, 2021|Press Release|

Introduction of the LINC to Address Social Needs Act – Webinar Recording

Recorded on February 25, 2021

Introduction of the LINC to Address Social Needs Act Slides

Aligning for Health is proud to support the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act of 2021, soon to be introduced in Congress by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Aligning for Health held a webinar to celebrate the launch of this important legislation. The webinar featured remarks from bill sponsors Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), along with panel remarks from the following experts in health equity and social determinants of health:

  • Sue Brogan, Chief Operating Officer & Alaska 2-1-1, United Way of Anchorage
  • Virginia Barnes, Director, Blue Health Initiatives, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
  • Anne Diamond, President, Bridgeport Hospital and Executive Vice President, Yale New Haven Health System

The LINC to Address Social Needs Act will provide seed funding to States to establish statewide or regional public-private partnerships to better coordinate health care and social services, leveraging local expertise and technology to overcome longstanding challenges in linking people to health, food, housing, child development, job training, and transportation supports and services.

Endorse LINC Here

Resources on the LINC to Address Social Needs Act

For more information on the LINC to Address Social Needs Act, contact Aligning for Health at info@aligningforhealth.org.

2021-02-26T20:46:27+00:00February 26th, 2021|Uncategorized|

Bipartisan Senators to introduce the LINC to Address Social Needs Act

February 25, 2021

Aligning for Health is proud to support the introduction of the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act (S. 509), bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

The LINC to Address Social Needs Act will assist states in building statewide or regional collaborations to better coordinate health care and social services by leveraging local expertise and technology to help connect people to food, housing, child development, job training, and transportation supports and services.

These and other social challenges have been proven to have clear implications on wellbeing and on population health. However, today’s health and social services systems and services are largely siloed. Investments to better align and coordinate between health care and social service providers will yield better, more holistic health outcomes, reduce preventable health costs, and keep the most vulnerable populations from falling through the cracks.

The LINC to Address Social Needs Act will provide one-time seed funding for states to facilitate cross-sector communication, service coordination and consumer assistance, referral and capacity management, and outcome tracking between social service providers and health care organizations. States, through public private partnerships, may establish or expand existing secure, connected technology networks and provide technical assistance and support to entities in connecting to the network. States will have flexibility to design networks that are responsive to the unique cultures and needs of their state. After the initial startup period, these self-sustaining public-private partnerships will serve as a nexus for coordinated efforts to address social and health needs regionally and across states.

This bill will create a new and unprecedented ability to share data and measure the impact of social interventions on health, health care spending, and community wellbeing. It will also allow health and social service organizations to better coordinate care and ensure maximum impact for available resources.

“As an organization dedicated to catalyzing the change that will break down the barriers between health and social service organizations, we applaud Senators Sullivan and Murphy for their leadership in introducing the LINC to Address Social Needs Act,” said Melissa Quick, co-chair of Aligning for Health. “The legislation will help to build and expand shared community resource referral networks, helping to improve coordination between the health care and social service sectors. Aligning for Health looks forward to the passage of this exciting legislation.”

The LINC to Address Social Needs Act has been endorsed by several organizations, including: Aligning for Health, Alliance for Better Health, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, AMGA, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Council on Social Work Education, Healthcare Leadership Council, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), National Association of ACOs, National Coalition on Health Care, Nemours Children’s Health System, Purchaser Business Group on Health, Signify Health, SNP Alliance, Unite Us, UPMC Health Plan, Well-being and Equity (WE) in the World, and Well Being Trust.

More on LINC
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Endorsing Statements

“The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) enthusiastically supports the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act and urges its swift adoption by Congress. This legislation not only makes critical investments in multi-sector coordination and collaboration to address the social determinants of health but also takes the important step of welcoming community-based organizations into the fold. These organizations have the knowledge and relationships that are critical to implement solutions that the LINC structure can advance.” – Julia Ryan, Vice President, Health Initiatives, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

“Access, coverage and quality only matter when we break down barriers to care and address the social factors influencing health care delivery,” said John Lovelace, President of UPMC for You and of Government Programs and Individual Advantage Products for UPMC Health Plan, “By providing states with the right tools to connect health with human services, the LINC Act will help deliver meaningful, measurable improvements in communities impacted by longstanding health care inequities and disparities.”

“Our surroundings have a deep impact on our health, which is why we need to better coordinate care and community resources across health and social services providers to improve overall health and advance health equity,” said Justine Handelman, senior vice president of the Office of Policy and Representation for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “We strongly support the LINC to Address Social Needs Act, which will help to catalyze additional coordination and break down barriers to care.”

Signify Health applauds Senators Sullivan (AK) and Murphy (CT) for introducing the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act. This legislation would establish statewide or regional partnerships to better coordinate health and social care services while leveraging innovative technology to connect people to their local resources for food, housing, transportation and other support programs. As a company that enables outcomes-focused networks to address social determinants of health, we believe this legislation is an important step to closing gaps in care and overcoming care coordination barriers.

“Research increasingly points to the important role of the social determinants of health, or the conditions in the places people live, learn, work, and play, which affect approximately 80 percent of patient health outcomes. While it is critical to recognize and understand the impact of social determinants of health, it’s even more important to develop solutions to address these key factors,” said American Medical Association President Susan R. Bailey, M.D. “The AMA applauds Senators Sullivan and Murphy for introducing the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act as it develops actionable solutions via grants and public-private partnerships to better connect physicians and other health care providers to social services organizations that help patients overcome long standing challenges associated with social determinants of health.”

“It is more important now than ever, in the face of nationwide COVID-19 related health and social challenges, that we make critical investments in child and family health,” said Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS, EVP, the Chief Population Health Officer at Nemours Children’s Health System. “The LINC to Address Social Needs Act would make such an investment in technology infrastructure to connect health care and community social service organizations, addressing the growing need for whole-child and whole-family care.”

“Advancing value-based payment in health care, which is sorely needed, will require addressing patients’ housing, transportation and nutrition needs. The LINC Act takes important steps to integrate important social services and health care, which has been separated for far too long. NAACOS is proud to support this legislation.” – Clif Gaus, Sc.D, president and CEO of the National Association of ACOs

“LINC addresses the crucial need to finance local infrastructure for the health-social service ecosystem, under the key condition that it be built and governed to reflect the public-private partnerships we will need to make genuine SDOH progress in our diverse country.” – Len M. Nichols, Professor Emeritus, George Mason University

2021-03-02T18:58:19+00:00February 25th, 2021|Press Release|

Aligning for Health Applauds Forward Momentum on Critical Maternal Health Legislation

February 22, 2021

This month, Congress has taken several steps to help improve maternal health and to address the significant disparities in maternal health outcomes in the U.S.

On Monday, February 8, the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 (H.R. 959), a 12-bill package that builds on existing legislation and is intended to comprehensively address gaps and invest in evidence-based solutions to improve maternal health outcomes.

Aligning for Health is pleased to see further action on maternal health – a top priority of a number of our members and advisory board. Aligning for Health supports and encourages passage of key components of the “Momnibus” – including the Social Determinants for Moms Act (H.R. 943), the Kira Johnson Act, the Moms Matter Act (H.R. 909), the IMPACT to Save Moms Act (H.R. 950), and the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act. These bills would make critical investments in social determinants that influence maternal health outcomes; provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity; make investments in community-based programs to support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders; and promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care, among other provisions. These are critical actions that require comprehensive, coordinated solutions and we applaud the sponsors for introducing legislation that would make these critical investments.

Additionally, on Friday, February 12 the House Energy & Commerce Committee advanced a provision that would allow states to extend Medicaid coverage to postpartum individuals for up to 12 months for five years as part of its American Rescue Plan legislation. Providing comprehensive, stable coverage during the postpartum period will provide new mothers with needed access to the care they need. Aligning for Health supports full enactment of this provision.

Aligning for Health is an advocacy organization focused on addressing the barriers and challenges that limit our ability to improve health outcomes and wellbeing for all. As a coalition, we are focused on developing and promoting actionable policies to address such challenges and to create opportunities for cross-sector, coordinated solutions to address health and social needs and to improve health equity.

2021-02-22T20:40:06+00:00February 22nd, 2021|Press Release|

Invitation: Introduction of the LINC to Address Social Needs Act

Aligning for Health is proud to support the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act of 2021, soon to be introduced in Congress by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Please join us as we celebrate the launch of this important legislation.

The LINC to Address Social Needs Act will provide seed funding to States to establish statewide or regional public-private partnerships to better coordinate health care and social services, leveraging local expertise and technology to overcome longstanding challenges in linking people to health, food, housing, child development, job training, and transportation supports and services. Please see registration link below.

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2021

Time: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET

Bill sponsors Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) will make statements, along with the following experts in health equity and social determinants of health:

  • Sue Brogan, Chief Operating Officer & Alaska 2-1-1, United Way of Anchorage
  • Virginia Barnes, Director, Blue Health Initiatives, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
  • Anne Diamond, President, Bridgeport Hospital and Executive Vice President, Yale New Haven Health System

REGISTER  HERE: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IlWhrJvUSECbLNxWksqSSw

More About LINC
Register Here
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2021-02-08T17:01:46+00:00February 3rd, 2021|Invitation|

AFH Comments on CMS Request for Information regarding Accelerating the Adoption of Standards Related to Social Risk Data

Aligning for Health was pleased to provide comment on the Request for Information regarding Accelerating the Adoption of Standards Related to Social Risk Data within the recently proposed rule to reduce provider and patient burden by improving prior authorization processes and promoting patients’ electronic access to health information.

Documenting social risk and social needs data in health records and promoting greater exchange of such data will ensure payers and providers delivering care to an individual have a more comprehensive view of the factors affecting the individuals’ health. Moreover, social risk and social needs data can be leveraged to provide insights on best practices and drivers of health disparities, and for risk adjusting payment or quality measurement. This documentation is the foundational first step toward care models that drive better alignment between health and social needs to improve patient outcomes. We believe that the outcome-focused care delivery systems of the future must rest on a data foundation that provides health organizations with meaningful information about both health and social risks.

Therefore, we agree that it is important to encourage and incentivize greater identification, documentation, and exchange of social risk and social needs data by removing barriers and by providing education and incentives for providers and payers.

Read the full comment letter here.

2021-01-05T21:29:24+00:00January 5th, 2021|Uncategorized|

Social Determinants Accelerator Act Provisions Included in FY 2021 Appropriations Package

Aligning for Health is pleased to share that Congress has approved legislation that includes key provisions from the Social Determinants Accelerator Act (H.R. 4004/S. 2986)

Yesterday, Congress approved a legislative package incorporating Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations, COVID-19 relief provisions, health care extenders, and other health care provisions. The accompanying Joint Explanatory Statement for the Departments of Labor-HHS-Education includes $3M in funding to establish a Social Determinants of Health Pilot Program to create Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans, as described in the House-passed Report Language copied below.

Social Determinants of Health Pilot Program.

  • The Committee recognizes the role of public health in working across sectors on social determinants of health. The Committee includes $3,000,000 for CDC to establish a Social Determinants of Health pilot program to award competitive grants to State, local, Territorial, or Tribal jurisdictions to support the development of Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plans.
  • 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; and identify non-governmental 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 and stakeholders and to engage qualified research experts in developing Social Determinants Accelerator Plans. The Committee directs CDC to submit a report within 120 days of enactment of this Act on how such grants will be administered.

“We must deliver innovative solutions to overcome social factors that are harmful to our health such as food deserts, long drive times, loss of services and beyond,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “The $3 million pilot program based on my Social Determinants Accelerator Act will help local governments do just that by empowering them to create plans to tackle these issues head on in our communities. The current public health crisis has only underscored the need for this critical program and I’m proud to see it pass today so we may build back stronger and healthier.”

Aligning for Health looks forward to working with the Administration in implementing the Social Determinants of Health Pilot Program and continuing to work with both the House and Senate sponsors to advance the Social Determinants Accelerator Act and support policies that address the social determinants of health in the 117th Congress.

Learn more about the Social Determinants Accelerator Act at http://aligningforhealth.org/socialdeterminants-accelerator-act/

For more information about Aligning for Health or the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, contact mquick@aligningforhealth.org

2020-12-22T20:59:21+00:00December 22nd, 2020|Press Release|

Social Determinants of Health Congressional Briefing

Recorded on December 15, 2020
Social Determinants of Health  Briefing Slides

 

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Aligning for Health co-hosted a virtual congressional briefing on December 15, 2020. The virtual briefing featured current Congressional staffers who highlighted opportunities in the 117th Congress to support effective and innovative approaches to Social Determinants of Health (SDOHs).

SDOHs are the social and economic conditions – such as those in transportation, housing, employment, food security, and education – that influence individual and community health. SDOHs are receiving increased attention from insurance companies, hospitals, healthcare systems, and governmental agencies interested in health outcomes and controlling costs. Now more than ever, centering cross-sector, public health strategies and funding can build strong foundations for effective, long-term solutions to improve health and potentially drive down health care costs. Some recent legislation that addresses some of these issues include the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019 (H.R. 4004/ S. 2986) and the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2020 (H.R. 6561/S. 4440)

Resources
Moderator
Speakers
  • Kristin Flukey, Legislative Assistant, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05)
  • Shane Hand, Legislative Assistant, Rep. Tom Cole, (R-OK-04)
  • Joshua Izaak, Legislative Director, Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44)
  • Kripa Sreepada, Health Policy Advisor, Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN)
  • Liam Steadman, Senior Policy Advisor, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17)

For more information on the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act, contact Daphne Delgado, ddelgado@tfah.org. For more information on the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, contact Melissa Quick MQuick@AligningForHealth.org.

2020-12-16T22:08:58+00:00December 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Co-Chair Melissa Quick Speaks at Brookings Institution Town Hall on the Implications of the Election for Progress on Addressing Social Determinants of Health

As part of the Building Healthy Neighborhoods project at Brookings, this webinar assesses how the results of the 2020 election might impact efforts to advance SDOH. Our panelists provide their views and expertise to respond to questions. Co-Chair of Aligning for Health Melissa Quick was a panelist at the town hall, discussing how Congress has approached addressing social determinants and how the new Congress and Administration may address social determinants and health disparities in 2021.

2020-11-20T13:51:40+00:00November 20th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Social Determinants Updates | November 11

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Aligning for Health Social Determinants Updates. Please click the button below to see our newsletter which contains updates on how the health care system is helping to meet health and social needs during the current public health emergency, notable links to research, data, and news related to health disparities and social determinants, and upcoming virtual events and opportunities.

Read Our Newsletter
2020-11-18T18:06:55+00:00November 18th, 2020|Uncategorized|
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