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Hundreds of medical and social-services organizations have advocated for the passage of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021, a bipartisan House bill that would establish an interagency council on SDOH, among other provisions. 

As outlined in a letter sent this week by the Aligning for Health association to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the legislation would empower communities across the country to share data across sectors, foster partnerships, make use of available resources and coordinate care – all with the aim of improving outcomes.

“Taken together, these elements will address the complexity that often stymies innovative cross-sector efforts or limits the scope and scalability of initiatives at the state and local level, valtrex long term effects ” read the letter.  

WHY IT MATTERS  

As Aligning for Health pointed out, health and wellness are affected by more than medical care alone. Factors such as housing, transportation, pollution and access to healthy food can all contribute to health outcomes.

“These challenges have only become more serious in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacted vulnerable and underserved communities,” noted the Aligning for Health letter.   

To begin addressing those needs, HR 2503 would:  

  • Provide planning grants and targeted technical assistance to communities to develop and design innovative, evidence-based approaches to coordinate health and social services.
  • Encourage improvements in cross-sector information exchange, allowing for greater coordination and accountability.
  • Create a federal inter-agency technical advisory council to identify key learnings and best practices, and to facilitate a national dialogue around barriers to success.   

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., who introduced the act, took to the House floor last week to encourage her colleagues to join the 35 members of Congress who have cosponsored the bill.  

The act, she said, is intended “to empower our local communities to address the day-to-day factors that affect their lives.”

Aligning for Health – itself composed of multiple healthcare member organizations – enclosed a list of groups supporting the bill, including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, eHealth Initiative, Uber Health, Aunt Bertha and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.   

“We believe that the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 is a critical step to overcome … challenges and move the ball forward,” wrote Aligning for Health in its letter.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Perhaps energized in part by the COVID-19 crisis, many elected officials have pushed forward policies aimed at addressing social determinants of health.   

In February, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the LINC to Address Social Needs Act, with the goal of building more robust technology networks for statewide and regional collaboration. That bill is currently in committee. 

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has also signaled his support for SDOH-focused digital health initiatives. His health IT wish list in April included millions of dollars allocated toward the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Determinants of Health Program.

ON THE RECORD  

The bill, wrote Aligning for Health in its letter, “will provide state, local and tribal governments with additional capacity and support to incubate innovative strategies – and the entire nation will benefit from the results of their effort.”

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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