American Hospital Association: AHA releases 2023 advocacy agenda (2/2) – The American Hospital Association released its 2023 advocacy agenda. One key priority for the organization in the coming year is to “promote approaches to account for social risk factors in quality measurement programs where appropriate to ensure equitable performance comparisons and payment adjustments, and promote alignment and standardization of approaches to collecting, analyzing and exchanging demographic and health-related social need data across federal agencies.”
PR Newswire: CliniSync and Unite Us Team Up to Expand Coordinated Care Throughout the Buckeye State (1/24) – The Ohio Health Information Partnership, which operates the statewide health information exchange CliniSync, and Unite Us have partnered to expand the coordinated care network known as Unite Ohio. This five-year collaboration will allow providers, managed care organizations and Community Service Organizations across the state to access the network, allowing Ohioans to easily connect to wraparound supportive services.
Socially Determined: Podcast – ACO REACH: Advancing Equity and Optimizing Performance (1/23) – As part of the Bright Spots in Healthcare podcast series, Ashley Perry, Chief Strategy & Solutions Officer at Socially Determined, participated in an interactive panel discussion focused on the innovative incentives and additional requirements included in the ACO REACH model. Perry spoke about how organizations are leveraging social risk analytics to fulfill program requirements and optimize financial performance within the model.
CareSource: CareSource, Walmart, and Johnson & Johnson team up to improve health outcomes for Black mothers (1/23) – CareSource partnered with Walmart and Johnson & Johnson on a joint effort to launch a new program supporting Black maternal health across the state of Georgia. The collaboration seeks to impact the maternal health rate through pre-pregnancy planning, prenatal and postnatal care initiatives, and address racial and health equity within these programs to meet more clinical and social needs that then lead to better outcomes.
SNAP Access for Medically Vulnerable Children Act (2/1) - Reps. Brown (D-OH), Kaptur (D-OH), Hayes (D-CT), and Bishop (D-GA) introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Access for Medically Vulnerable Children Act (H.R. 706), which would allow households with children with chronic medical conditions to deduct allowable medical expenses incurred by such household member that exceeds $35 per month.
Healthy Foundations for Homeless Veterans Act (1/31) - Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL) and nine cosponsors introduced the Healthy Foundations for Homeless Veterans Act (H.R. 645), which would permanently authorize the use of certain funds to improve flexibility in the provision of assistance to homeless veterans.
Helping HANDS For Families Act (1/24) - Reps. Miller (R-WV) and Chu (D-CA) introduced the Helping Households And Neighbors Distribute Services (HANDS) for Families Act (H.R. 476), which would allow community supports to meet specific needs of families and children through an electronic care portal under the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families program. The bill would permit states to use already-allocated money to access online portals that connect families in need with resources such as pregnancy centers, child care programs, food pantries, churches, and non-profits. Sens. Rubio (R-FL) and Casey (D-PA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 73).
Community Mentors for Moms Act (1/24) - Rep. Miller (R-WV) introduced the Community Mentors for Moms Act (H.R. 477), which would establish a grant program for community-based maternal mentoring programs for low-income mothers to support and prepare them to raise their children for success. Sen. Rubio (R-FL) introduced the companion legislation in the Senate (S. 48).
Targeting Child Care Funds Based on Poverty Act (1/24) - Rep. Miller (R-WV) introduced the Targeting Child Care Funds Based on Poverty Act (H.R. 479), which would target additional childcare funds by allocating to States based on the number of children in poverty in each state. This legislation will provide federal resources to families who need them most through greater flexibility and access to affordable child care, and paid family and medical leave.
Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act (1/23) - Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Padilla (D-CA), Klobuchar (D-MN), and Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Fighting Homelessness Through Services and Housing Act (S. 24), which would authorize a $1 billion annual grant program within HRSA for housing programs that offer comprehensive services and intensive case management for homeless individuals and families. Reps. Lieu (D-CA), Kamlager-Dove (D-CA), and Garcia (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 516).
HHS: Snapshot – How HHS is Building a Healthier America (2/2) – HHS released a snapshot
of key HHS accomplishments from 2022 that support the health and well-being of everyone living in America, and remains committed to advancing health equity in 2023. Notably, HHS outlines numerous actions taken in 2022 to invest in social determinants of health, including funding 36 communities through CDC to develop cross-sector action plans to prevent and reduce chronic disease among people experiencing health disparities.
HHS: Biden-Harris Administration Awards Nearly $11M to Address Disparities in Cancer Screening and Follow-up Care (2/2) – The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded nearly $11 million to 22 HRSA-funded health centers to improve access to life-saving cancer screenings and early detection services for underserved communities. These centers are working to close the cancer screening gap and decrease the impact of preventable cancers.
CMS: CMS Releases 2024 Advance Notice with Proposed Payment Updates for the MA and Part D Programs (2/1) - CMS released the calendar year (CY) 2024 Advance Notice for the Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Programs, which proposes changes to payment growth rates and methodologies. Notably, the Advance Notice included Star Rating policies related to health equity, and is seeking feedback on the value of collecting information about unmet health-related social needs and whether plans provided screening and referral related to those needs using the health outcomes survey instrument. CMS will accept comments through March 3, 2023, before publishing the final Rate Announcement by April 3, 2023. Fact Sheet
CMS: HHS Approves California’s Medicaid and CHIP Demonstration Authority for Justice-Involved People (1/26) - CMS approved
California’s Medicaid and CHIP section 1115 demonstration amendment which will provide a set of pre-release services and improve access to care for people returning home from jails and prisons. The state will be able to help connect the person to community-based Medicaid providers 90 days prior to their release to ensure they can continue their treatment after they return to the community.
HHS ASPE: Health Care Transitions for Individuals Returning to the Community from a Public Institution (1/26) – The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a report
that summarizes the identified practices of the Medicaid Reentry Stakeholder Group and informs design of a demonstration opportunity to improve care transitions for certain individuals who are soon-to-be former inmates of a public institution.
CMS: CMS Accomplishments for 2022 (1/26) - CMS released a summary of highlights of the agency’s accomplishments in 2022. Highlights include efforts to advance health equity, such as the release of the CMS Health Equity Action Plan, Maternity Care Action Plan, and Framework for Health Equity, and other key accomplishments.
SAMHSA: Funding Opportunities for Grants Addressing Substance Misuse, Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Among Pregnant, Postpartum Women (1/26) – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced funding opportunities for two grant programs aimed at preventing substance misuse and treating substance use disorder (SUD) among pregnant and postpartum women in the United States. The grant opportunities total $17 million and would aim to improve maternal health and the nation’s addition and overdose crisis.
Department of Veterans Affairs: VA housed more than 40,000 homeless Veterans in 2022 (1/26) – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it permanently housed 40,401 homeless Veterans during 2022. This exceeded the department’s goal to house 38,000 Veterans in 2022 by 6.3 percent. Nationally, the total number of Veterans experiencing homelessness has decreased by 11 percent since January 2020.
White House: Initial Proposals for Revising the Federal Race and Ethnicity Standards (1/26) – The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published an initial set of recommendations to revise OMB’s statistical standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data across Federal agencies. Initial proposals include: collecting race and ethnicity together with a single question; adding a response category for Middle Eastern and North African, separate and distinct from the “White” category; and updating SPD 15’s terminology, definitions, and question wording. Comments are due April 12, 2023.
HHS: Biden-Harris Administration to Launch Summit Series to Advance Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Economic Equity (1/26) - HHS announced that the Biden-Harris Administration’s Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders will launch a series of regional economic summits to connect community members directly with federal leaders and resources.
HHS: HHS Awards $139 million for Special Diabetes Program for Indians (1/25) - HHS announced it is investing $139 million for the Fiscal Year 2023 Special Diabetes Program for Indians to provide diabetes prevention and treatment services for American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
White House: Biden-Harris Administration Releases First-Ever Federal Evidence Agenda on LGBTQI+ Equity (1/24) – The Biden Administration released the Federal Evidence Agenda on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Equity. The agenda provides a roadmap to help federal agencies ensure they are collecting needed data and evidence to improve the lives of and advance equity for LGBTQI+ Americans. The agenda will also build off the Administration’s work to expand the federal collection of data about sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics (“SOGI data”).
GAO: HHS Funds Allocated to Support Disproportionately Affected Communities (1/24) - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report which found that HHS provided $75 billion in pandemic relief funding to the CDC, HRSA, Indian Health Service, and Office of Minority Health. These agencies directed $29 billion (over 35 percent) of this funding to programs specifically supporting communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and $33 billion to programs with a recommendation that awardees support such communities with the funds.
SDoH & Health Equity in the News
Health Affairs: Organizing Around Vital Conditions Moves the Social Determinants Agenda Into Wider Action (2/2) – The vital conditions framework focuses attention on a small but comprehensive set of conditions that all people depend on to reach their full potential for health and well-being. Now, a growing number of organizations explicitly focus on establishing vital conditions, and largely report being better able to catalyze multisector action, whereas efforts to rally widespread action around social determinants of health or other frameworks can fall short. The authors of this article advocate for articulating social determinants as vital conditions.
Fierce Healthcare: CVS Health launches initiative with Meharry Medical College, Sinai Chicago aiming to reduce disparities in marginalized communities (1/30) – CVS Health launched the Community Equity Alliance, an initiative aimed at addressing barriers to care in underserved communities. CVS Health will fund Meharry Medical College, Sinai Chicago, and Wayne State University for locally tailored initiatives and will create a space for alliance members to share best practices and lessons learned.
Patient Engagement HIT: Considering Disability in Social Determinants of Health Referrals (1/26) – Children’s Specialized Hospital, which delivers care to kids with disabilities and specialized care needs, launched an online resource to support its patients, making considerations for SDOH referrals and pediatric care. The hospital has integrated SDOH screening and real-time referral into its clinical practice and focuses on transportation, food insecurity, and housing.
Kaiser Family Foundation: State Policies for Expanding Medicaid Coverage of Community Health Workers Services (1/23) – Many states use community health worker (CHW) services to address the health needs of targeted populations, such as culturally appropriate health promotion and education, translation services, and social supports. In a recent Medicaid budget survey, Kaiser Family Foundation asked states about CHW coverage policies in place as of July 1, 2022 and planned for FY2023. Key findings include Medicaid payment for CHW services, CHW coverage changes planned for FY2023, certification and training, and efforts to expand CHW workforce.
Cleveland Clinic: Cleveland Clinic Launches Initiative Focused on Improving Infant and Maternal Health (1/30) – Cleveland Clinic launched the Center for Infant and Maternal Health initiative to reduce infant and maternal mortality in Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Summit counties. The initiative will bring together a wide range of specialty health services to support at-risk women during their pregnancy and through an infant’s first year of life, and will focus on expanding and coordinating services at existing locations, partnering with local community resources and finding new solutions.
Healthcare IT News: Omaha program uses HIE tech to improve postpartum care for minority parents and children (1/26) – CyncHealth, Collective Medical, and Innsena are being recognized by the HHS Racial Equity in Postpartum Care Challenge, including federal funding of $40,000, for their postpartum care program in Omaha. This program improves postpartum care for Black and Indigenous parents and children with high-risk conditions who participate in Medicaid and CHIP, and significantly reduces maternal and neonatal mortality.
PR Newswire: Sentara Healthcare and Ciox Launch Pilot to Help New Mothers Access Their Medical Records Faster and Easier to Improve Care (1/24) – Ciox launched a pilot with Sentara Healthcare on a consumer-friendly tool that gathers records automatically to give providers a more complete view for prenatal, delivery and postpartum care. Ciox’s Patient Request tool uses a mother's pregnancy due date to calculate health care service dates, from prenatal through postpartum care, a summary of which can be delivered securely to a patient at request.
Data & Innovation
STAT: Death by missing data – Uncollected racial and ethnic pandemic data will drive inequities for decades to come (1/30) – Epidemiology requires good data, however a whopping 56 percent of confirmed COVID-19 infections were missing race and ethnicity data when first reported in July 2020. A later review published in 2021 revealed that researchers had to exclude one-fifth of cross-sectional studies looking at COVID disparities given data on race/ethnicity was missing for more than 20 percent of cases. Even in 2022, the degree of missing data on race and ethnicity in federal COVID databases is too high, which has significant implications for addressing inequities.
Health Leaders: Looking Beyond Reimbursement – Capturing SDOH Data in the Revenue Cycle (1/27) – With increasing attention on population health and quality initiatives, some organizations have turned their focus on capturing patients’ SDOH. SDOH codes are not currently tied to reimbursement, meaning SDOH capture isn’t on the list of priorities for all revenue cycle leaders. This article explores the positives to collecting and documenting this data outside reimbursement, such as reduced provider burnout and frustration.
New Research and Reports
Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: Health Departments’ Role in Addressing SDOH in Collaboration with Multisector Community Partnerships
(February 2023) - Multisector community partnerships (MCPs) are key components of the public health strategy for addressing SDOH and promoting health equity. Governmental public health agencies are often members or leaders of MCPs, but few studies have examined the role of health departments in supporting MCPs' SDOH initiatives. This study engaged 42 established MCPs in a rapid retrospective evaluation to better understand how MCPs' SDOH initiatives contribute to community changes that promote healthy living and improved health outcomes.
LAN Health Equity Advisory Team: Advancing Health Equity Through APMs – Guidance on Social Risk Adjustment (1/31) – The Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network (LAN)’s Health Equity Advisory Team (HEAT) published new guidance
addressing social risk adjustment and the ways it can be implemented within value-based care settings. The guidance specifically focuses on how social risk adjustment for payment and complementary core components can address health equity.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Governor’s Health Equity Council Releases Full Report (1/30) – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ Health Equity Council released its full report detailing recommendations to achieve long-lasting and equitable health outcomes for all Wisconsinites. The report details the 20 recommendations adopted by the council, along with robust data revealing the state of health equity in Wisconsin and an examination of the social determinants of health that contribute to differences in health outcomes documented across the state.
California Health Care Foundation: Housing-Related Community Supports – A Handbook for Managed Care Plans (1/20) – CalAIM’s Enhanced Care Management and housing-related Community Supports are avenues by which managed care plans can fund the care coordination and housing-related services many people need to stabilize themselves after inpatient care and to locate permanent housing. The California Health Care Foundation published a handbook
that aims to help managed care plans navigate what may be unfamiliar territory and to support them in establishing and strengthening partnerships in the housing-related sector and integrate these services at the community level.