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Social Determinants Updates

May 15 to May 29, 2020

Welcome to Aligning for Health's Social Determinants Updates newsletter.

In this newsletter you will find updates on how the health care system is helping to meet health and social needs during the current public health emergency, as well as other notable links to research, data, and news related to social determinants, and upcoming virtual events and opportunities.

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Member News

AHA: (5/27) – AFH member American Hospital Association submitted a statement to the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday regarding its the hearing on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

MobiHealthNews: (5/27) –AFH member Unite Us is highlighted in this article, which notes that COVID-19’s unprecedented stress on social services and the lack of public health infrastructure has driven demand for innovative social determinants of health platforms.

MedCityNews: (5/25) – AFH member Signify Health CEO wrote an op-ed on the need to support seniors, bolster mental and behavioral health care, and maintain the momentum toward value-based care during this next phase of recovery.

AHA: (5/22) – Rick Pollack, CEO of AFH member American Hospital Association, wrote a perspective piece about how COVID-19 puts a spotlight on the need for health equity, highlighting some of the resources AHA has compiled on addressing health equity and social needs during the pandemic.

Health Payer Intelligence: (5/21) – AFH member Centene announced that its Medicare Advantage members will have free access to primary care, behavioral healthcare, and telehealth care through the end of 2020 as well as access to programs that address the social determinants of health.

Health Care Innovation: (5/20) – Healthcare and community leaders are beginning to figure out how to navigate around societal social determinants of health gaps, and how platforms like AFH member Unite Us are operationalizing data and connecting with social services.

Centene: (5/18) – AFH member Centene announced that it has convened a group of medical, non-profit, and community leaders to form the Centene Health Disparities Task Force, which will further Centene’s leadership and commitment to ensuring underserved populations have access to healthcare.

HCSC: (5/18) – AFH member HCSC helped employees in New Mexico gather and provide essential supplies to the Navajo Nation and HCSC’s New Mexico plan donated $10,000 to the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Fund.

Social Determinants Accelerator Act

Journal Star: (5/18) – Lead Sponsor Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) highlighted how the Social Determinants Accelerator Act is one of three steps needed to strengthen America’s rural public health system. SDAA aims to address social determinants of health by providing up to $25 million in grants and requires that at least 20 percent of these grants be awarded to rural communities.

Social Determinants in the News

Patient Engagement HIT: (5/27) – Three pediatric health experts from Johns Hopkins University assert that the US needs to be making more of an investment in addressing social determinants of health experienced in childhood, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare Dive: (5/27) – COVID-19 has forced nearly half of patients to postpone care, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation; additionally, nearly 25% of respondents said they had skipped a meal, visited a food bank, or applied for SNAP benefits.

Becker’s Hospital Review: (5/27) – A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 45% of U.S. adults have had their mental health negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Affairs: (5/26) – With COVID-19 highlighting housing disparities and the little public policy taken to address it, the next phase of response will need to feature housing prominently. The article calls for three components of a response: ensure a safe and rapid allocation of housing to those in need of isolation or quarantine, rectify the unsafe conditions in congregate settings like nursing homes and correctional facilities, and address the long-term housing needs of the homeless and marginally housed.

PHI: (5/26) – The Public Health Alliance of Southern California has developed their Healthy Places Index to help the allocation of resources to disadvantaged communities, including releasing a new interactive COVID-19 Healthy Places Index Resources Map.

Fierce Healthcare: (5/26) – Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is expanding its social determinants program amid COVID-19 after finding success piloting the program in Newark. The program is built on deploying community health workers to meet members with social needs where they are and offer a local approach to meeting those needs.

Modern Healthcare: (5/23) – Prior to the pandemic, medical respite-care programs were largely operated by not-for-profits, however amid the pandemic, a growing number of cities and states are adopting similar care models to stem COVID-19’s spear in their homeless populations.

Modern Healthcare: (5/23) – The COVID-19 crisis may be an inflection point that will add additional investments and initiatives to meet social needs, as SDOH programs have the potential to quickly address mounting social needs and prevent associated health complications.

MedCityNews: (5/22) – The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that human intervention coupled with technology is imperative to address social needs both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Affairs: (5/22) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the attention has been focused on nursing homes, however this article highlights the need to also mitigate risk in publicly subsidized senior housing communities.

Modern Healthcare: (5/22) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has called for recommendations from a Minority Health Strike Force he formed to study the effects of the coronavirus on minority populations in Ohio and announced a new top-level health department position called the Deputy Director of Social Determinants of Health and Opportunity.

Reuters: (5/22) – A new study found that in 2020, 139 of 3,052 (4.6%) Medicare Advantage plans offered benefits for social needs under the CHRONIC Care Act. The most commonly offered benefit was pest control, followed by produce and meal delivery.

MyFox28Columbus: (5/21) – Kroger has begun offering telenutrition services to Ohioans to promote health and affordable eating by connecting people with dietitians who can create personalized support plans and help manage food-related health concerns.

The Hill: (5/20) – An op-ed penned by the President and CEO of Community Care Cooperative, a MassHealth ACO, argues that the COVID-19 pandemic is the best time to create cross-sector partnerships that tackle social issues disproportionately affecting the nation’s most vulnerable, like food insecurity.

WDET: (5/20) – New research shows that Detroit although was already experiencing widespread housing insecurity, the pandemic has been compounded and worsened the crisis.

Feeding America: (5/20) – A new Feeding America study projects that local food insecurity may impact up to 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 2 children during the COVID-19 PHE.

The Lancet: (5/18) – The association between social inequalities and COVID-19 morbidity is further compounded by the interplay of social determinants, asthma, and COVID-19, which might help explain the higher risk of COVID-19 morbidity for those with asthma.

MassLive: (5/17) – Massachusetts has invested $56 million to combat food insecurity amid coronavirus and to bolster the food supply chain, as recommended by its Food Security Task Force.

QNS: (5/14) – A new initiative called ‘Project Parachute’ brings together over 40 owners of market-rate and affordable apartment buildings, nonprofits, and service providers in New York to help New Yorkers stay in their homes. The project was launched with an initial $4 million-dollar investment and seeks to support NYC communities that have been hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patient Engagement HIT: (5/14) – New data from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging found that only one-third of patients who report food security challenges are part of some program mitigating the social determinants of health.

SIREN: (May 2020) – SIREN has put together a crowdsourced spreadsheet that is a compendium of recent news about COVID-19 and health equity.

New Research and Reports

TFAH: (May 2020) – New data from Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust showed that 151, 964 Americans died due to alcohol, drugs, or suicide in 2018. These deaths are related to deaths of despair, with communities of color experiencing higher rates of increases in drug-induced and alcohol deaths. The report recommends that government agencies invest in primary prevention programs that address the upstream factors that contribute to poor community health and lack of opportunity. 

Milbank Memorial Fund: (5/22) – The Milbank Memorial Fund has released a new report on marrying value-based payment and the social determinants of health through Medicaid ACOs and the implications for policy and practice.

 Data Collection and Innovation

PRWeb: (5/21) – A new population health mapping tool called the Integrating Community and Clinical Data to Assess Patient Risks with a Population Health Assessment Engine (PHATE) uses patient data from the PRIME Registry to assigns a Community Vital Sign to an individual patient based on Census Tract characteristics. Clinicians can use PHATE to identify clusters of disease and poor outcomes in the community context and links to local resources based on specified zip codes.

Becker’s Hospital Review: (5/26) –Pittsburgh-based insurer Highmark has joined the Gravity Project, a Health Level Seven International interoperability collaborative which aims to standardize medical data used to identify social determinants of health.

Health IT Analytics: (5/22) – As the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health equity challenges, leading organizations like the American Heart Association have started leveraging social determinants data to find new ways of sharing data, developing solutions, and addressing health disparities.

GovTech: (5/19) – New Jersey has launched a coronavirus resource app that assists users with COVID-19 information, health resources, and related social determinants of health.

Legislative Round-Up

Inside Health Policy: (5/27) – The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on Wednesday focusing on the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on communities of color.

H.R. 6800 – The HEROES Act, passed by the House on May 15, is a health and economic recovery omnibus bill that would provide large-scale relief for economic recovery due to COVID-19. The $3 trillion response bill includes provisions to increased Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments to state Medicaid programs by 14%, provide $175 billion in housing assistance, $10 billion for SNAP and increases the maximum SNAP benefit by 15%. HEROES also allocate funds to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Child Nutrition Programs, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

H.R. 6582 – The Food for Working Families Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), would revise the requirements for calculating income under the SNAP program to exclude income and resources from emergency federal, pandemic, or unemployment compensation paid to an individual under the CARES Act.

H.R. 6823 – The COVID-19 Serving the Homeless by Expanding the List of Tenant Eligible Residences (COVID-19 SHELTER) Act of 2020, introduced by Reps. Huffman (D-CA), Johnson (D-TX), and Hastings (D-FL), which would expand the housing choice voucher program from HUD to provide temporary housing during COVID.

S. 3721/ H.R. 6763 – The COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force Act, introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL), would establish a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force to gather data about disproportionately affected communities and provide recommendations to combat the racial and ethnic disparities in the COVID-19 response.

H.R. 6395 – The Protecting the Health of America’s Older Adults During COVID-19 and Beyond Act, introduced by Reps. Frankel (D-FL), Bilirakis (R-FL), Dingell (D-MI) and Shalala (D-FL) which would establish a cross-agency National COVID-19 Resource Center for Older Adults, as well as authorize an Age-Friendly Public Health Program at the CDC.

S. Res. 591 – Sen. Cardin (D-MD) introduced a resolution promoting minority health awareness and supporting the goals and ideals of National Minority Health Month in April 2020, which includes bringing attention to the health disparities faced by minority populations of the United States such as American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders.

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