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. These 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. In fact, one widely cited study found that while 10 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. are due to clinical health care, social and environmental factors are estimated to account for 60 percent of health outcomes.
Recognizing this link, governors, public health officials and Medicaid directors throughout the country have engaged in efforts to address the ever-increasing cost of health care by integrating more social determinants of health into their approach to Medicaid. While there have been successes, many states and local governments have experienced challenges in embarking on and implementing cross-agency, cross-program coordination. Many who run state programs agree that the greatest challenge to realizing innovative, high-impact approaches to social determinants is the difficulty in wading through the fragmented and complex nature of federal and state funding and administrative requirements.
Through a combination of research and data collection, direct advocacy, coalition building, and media outreach, Aligning for Health is energizing stakeholders and policymakers around the need for targeted technical assistance and funding to states and communities to help them design high-impact, cross-system strategies that achieve better health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries, improve program effectiveness, and lower healthcare costs.
Aligning for Health
Aligning for Health is a membership association which, with the support of our members and Advisory Board, advocates for solutions that address the common challenge of our members – the need for more integrated and coordinated programs to better improve health outcomes for Americans.
The AFH team:
- Assesses current opportunities for coordination of relevant health and human service programs across the federal government, such as housing, food assistance, workforce training, transportation and Medicaid.
- Identifies successful state- and locally-developed cross-sector models addressing social determinants, and reviewed the role of the private sector and charitable initiatives in such models.
- Meets with county and state officials to understand the challenges and barriers they face in addressing the whole-person needs of vulnerable and/or or high-cost patients.
- Build and execute on an advocacy campaign to support solutions to address social determinants.
- Cultivates supportive Governors and state and local officials.
- Lobbies the Biden Administration and Congress.
- Educates interested stakeholders.
- Works with agencies at the state and federal level to assist in developing Social Determinants Accelerator Plans.
Advisory Board Members:
- Nicole Barcliff, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
- Matthew Chase, National Association of Counties (NACo)
- Jason Gromley, Share Our Strength
- Jason Helgerson, Helgerson Solutions Group and Former New York Medicaid Director
- Matthew Lyons, American Public Human Services Association (APHSA)
- Marcella Maguire, Corporation for Supportive Housing
- Jerold Mande, Harvard University, Adjunct Professor of Nutrition, Senior Advisor to the President at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, former Senior Advisor on Food/Nutrition, USDA
- John McCarthy, Speire Healthcare Strategies, Former Medicaid Director in Ohio and the District of Columbia
- Len M. Nichols, PhD, Non-Resident Fellow, Urban Institute and Professor Emeritus, George Mason University
- Jill Rosenthal, Center for American Progress (CAP)
- Andrew Sperling, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Kathy Stack, KB Stack Consulting, Former OMB Official
- Karin VanZant, Clearlink Partners
- Rick Whitted, U.S. Hunger
- Sandra Wilkniss, National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP)
- Ginger Zielinskie, Data.org