American Hospital Association: (7/19) - Postpartum depression (PPD) affects one in eight women; however, the risk is 1.6 times higher for Black women than White women. Maternal mental health symptoms and issues among Black women are often overlooked and under addressed. This blog by the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity outlines four ways hospitals and health systems can support the maternal mental health of black women.
HealthLeaders: (7/15) - Unite Us’ Social Care Payments platform provides the tech infrastructure for the health equity ecosystem. The platform is designed to help community agencies navigate a new landscape of billing, coding and claims, while the company’s core platform and infrastructure enables CBOs to collaborate and gain insights more efficiently.
Globe Newswire: (7/14) - Six of the nation’s leading social care companies, including findhelp and Unite Us, have signed the Michigan Health Information Network’s (MiHIN) Interoperable Referrals Pledge, and in doing so have taken responsibility to act to enable a more interoperable social care environment through mutual collaboration. These organizations, along with MiHIN, have committed to eliminating information silos and to working diligently to achieve five core principles, outlined in this article.
CareSource: (7/13) - CareSource is sponsoring a pilot as part of the Ohio State University Health Equity Scholars Program, called “CONTEXT: Promoting an Intersectional View Using a Dashboard to Support Provider Engagement with Patient Social Determinants of Health and Perceived Biases.” CareSource will provide support from its health equity and quality staff, exposure to health equity efforts at the state level and a chance for the team to present its findings to CareSource and Ohio Department of Medicaid leadership to further amplify and extend its reach.
HealthLeaders: (7/11) - HealthLeaders interviewed Erin Barney, new VP of Network Solutions for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association(BCBSA), about the role Network Solutions plays at BCBSA and how her expertise will help BCBSA balance individual network needs with enterprise goals in such areas as health equity and maternal health.
UPMC: (7/11) - During this UPMC Health Disparities Q&A, Amanda McCoy, MD, MPH discusses her goals as part of the UPMC network and her desire to improve health equity and outcomes in her work, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in her roles at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.
Sen. Warnock: (7/20) - Senator Warnock (D-GA) introduced a legislative package that would help servicemembers across the country obtain sufficient and affordable housing. This package of bills was introduced in the House by Rep. Strickland (D-WA).
Congressional SDOH Caucus: (7/13) - The Congressional Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Caucus held its second briefing on July 13, which focused on food insecurity and nutrition as a SDOH. The briefing featured remarks from Caucus members Reps. Bustos (D-IL), Cole (R-OK), Butterfield (D-NC), and McGovern (D-MA). Rep. McGovern spoke about the upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, set for September. The briefing also featured a panel of experts from across the health and social services sectors to discuss best practices and recommendations for Congress to address this issue.
To view a full list of the legislation we are tracking around social determinants of health, health equity/disparities, and maternal health, click here.
Health Affairs: (7/21) - CMS leaders penned a blog on CMS’ Medicare value-based care strategy, outlining a cohesive Value-Based Care strategy for Medicare along three main pillars: alignment, growth, and equity. The CMS officials note that the design of value-based arrangements in Medicare can be an important tool for advancing health equity by encouraging the movement of care upstream to address the health-related social needs and disparities that can lead to or exacerbate poor health outcomes.
ONC: (7/19) - The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the latest version of the United States Core Data for Interoperability, Version 3 (USCDI v3), which adds 24 new data elements that span across six data classes. According to an ONC spokesperson, “In addition to expanding the USCDI data classes and elements to address patient access and care needs, many of the added elements are also meant to mitigate health and health care inequities and disparities, address the needs of underserved communities, and support public health interoperability needs of reporting, investigation and emergency response.”
CMS: (7/15) - CMS released the CY2023 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System proposed rule, which makes policy and payment updates for hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical centers. Notably, CMS requests comment on potential future quality measures for health equity in rural and rural emergency settings. General Fact SheetRural Emergency Hospitals Fact Sheet
OIG: (7/13) - The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report on findings from interviews with CDC staff responsible for collecting and analyzing COVID-19 data. The study concluded that the CDC found ways to use data to understand and address COVID-19 health disparities, despite challenges with existing data.
HHS ASPE: (7/13) - The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a practice guide as a resource for a broad range of human services programs aiming to be more inclusive of and responsive to fathers.Building on literature from the field and interviews with human services providers that engage fathers in services, this guide outlines strategies for advancing equity in human services programs, such as confronting systemic racism and other structural barriers to equity and collecting and using data to improve policies and practices.
HHS Office of Minority Health: (7/13) - In this blog, Sudarshan Pyakurel, M.A., the Executive Director of Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio (BCCO) and a community leader and advocate for social justice, discusses the Bhutanese Response Assistance Volunteer Effort (BRAVE) project and how it has evolved to continue serving refugees, immigrant, and Limited English Proficiency communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
CMS: (7/8) - Dr. LaShawn McIver, the Director of the CMS Office of Minority Health, penned a blog on the CMS Framework for Health Equity and the three ways in which CMS is working to advance health equity. The Framework provides an integrated, action-oriented approach for CMS to advance health equity among members of communities who have been historically underserved or disadvantaged and for providers, plans, and other organizations serving such communities.
SDoH & Health Equity in the News
Fierce Healthcare: (7/20) - SCAN Group, the parent company of SCAN Health Plan, is investing in SafeRide Health, a technology-enabled nonemergency medical transport (NEMT) broker that builds transportation programs based on the needs of older adults. The platform is connected with NEMT companies like Uber and Lyft, and the partnership aims to identify members with high-acuity or unique needs and eliminate transportation barriers for seniors.
STAT: (7/19) - As value-based payment reform expands, implementing the necessary changes to enable it must operate from a frame of equity to effectively reduce care disparities. This article outlines strategies to do so, including creating flexibility with innovative value-based payment solutions, such as decoupling payments related to social drivers of health from payments based on visits, and screening individuals for social needs only when it serves their needs.
Harvard Business Review: (7/19) - As physicians strive to address the disparities in U.S. health care that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, they should focus not only on clinical quality, population health management, and appropriate technology but also culturally responsive care, including how they communicate with patients. This article outlines six principles of inclusive communications to keep in mind.
PR Newswire: (7/19) - Health Net awarded a $120,000 grant to Vouchers 4 Veggies to expand into three rural California counties, providing more families with access to fresh, healthy food. This grant is part of Health Net's ongoing commitment to improving community health by addressing chronic food insecurity in California communities.
JAMA Pediatrics: (7/18) - The US is becoming increasingly diverse, from the perspective of race and ethnicity, sex, socioeconomics, and other aspects of demography. The growing diversity of the population is most notable within the pediatric population, however the pediatric workforce does not reflect the diversity of its patients—only 16 percent of pediatricians are from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. This Viewpoint article explores this finding in more detail.
Healthcare Innovation: (7/18) - A new Healthy Communities tool is giving North Carolina community members, nonprofits, and government agencies free access to data and analytics tools to drive improvements in 21 key social determinants metrics. The Healthy NC 2030 task force, led by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, brought together experts and leaders from multiple fields to develop a common set of public health indicators and targets for the state over the next decade.
STAT: (7/14) - To better address SDOH and biases in health care delivery, the AAMC has developed a new set of competencies for medical education across the continuum to effectively and compassionately care for patients everywhere. Diversity and inclusion are foundational for promoting and achieving health equity, and these competencies are the observable abilities of a health professional related to a specific activity that integrates relevant knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to help them deliver equitable care.
Health Affairs: (7/14) - The expiration of the public health emergency will unravel a number of important pandemic-relief policies for SNAP, which can harm the health of millions of vulnerable Americans and damage economic recovery. This article outlines three important SNAP policies that will unwind and jeopardize food assistance for low-income individuals and families, and outlines both federal and state options to reduce the potential harm of SNAP and Medicaid unwinding.
Urban Institute: (7/12) - Diversity—or the lack of it—among medical students and professionals affects not only how physicians deliver care and make clinical decisions but how faculty develop and deliver medical school curriculum and how medical research is conducted. This article explores strategies for supporting a more diverse physician workforce to help advance health equity, including through pathway programs that provide social supports, among others, to underrepresented students.
UnitedHealth Group: (7/12) - UnitedHealth Group announced a $25 million commitment to the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund II (HNEF II), which was created to finance inclusive mixed-use developments near public transportation that offer retail, housing, and social services to support healthier communities in Massachusetts. The company has made more than $630 million in affordable housing investments, with a commitment to reach $800 million by the end of 2022.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: (7/12) - A new affordable housing complex in Atlanta, called McAuley Station, contains 170 affordable housing units with the goal of energizing developers and hospitals to build more low-cost housing. Mercy Care, which was involved in this initiative, will have a lease on 10 temporary units for homeless patients who are waiting on permanent housing, and the complex will be located close to public transit and other amenities to meet the health needs of individuals.
MedCity News: (7/11) - Addressing SDOH proactively through outreach by highly trained community health navigators, guided by data and leveraging easy-to-use technology, could help to get ahead of an individual’s needs, design and execute a care plan, and keep them out of the hospital. This article focuses on strategies to turn the focus to proactive whole-person care to ensure the right people receive the services and care they need, improve and reduce health care disparities, and lower avoidable health care spend.
Spotlight on Maternal Health
Spectrum News 1: (7/21) - The New York State Office of Mental Health will study the impact of postpartum depression on vulnerable communities. The study will review additional questions or tools that could be used to minimize disparities within current screenings for postpartum depression, find and identify racial disparities in the current screening tools and find ways of reducing or ending discrimination toward transgender, non-binary and racial and ethic health discrimination.
Patient Engagement HIT: (7/21) - According to a poll by What to Expect, a pregnancy patient education company, most of the maternal mortality problem experienced in the US links back to stark maternal health disparities, with Black women far less likely to report getting the maternal health care they need compared to White women. About a quarter of women said they have felt ignored or dismissed by their maternity care provider, with 10 percent saying they felt ignored by a primary care provider and 19 percent by another provider.
Healio: (7/13) - In partnership with the University of Michigan, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has provided new recommendations to help individualize prenatal care to meet patients’ needs. The Plan for Appropriate Tailored Healthcare in pregnancy (PATH) recommendations were developed by the Michigan PATH (MiPATH) panel of experts and outline a care approach that takes patients’ medical risk factors, social needs and preferences into consideration.
UNC Health: (7/12) - UNC Health received a $2.4 million grant from the American Heart Association, as part of the organization’s pledge to address social determinants of health experienced by women of color. UNC’s joint collaboration with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a Historically Black College and University, will begin its “Building Equitable Linkages with Interprofessional Education Valuing Everyone” (BELIEVE) project in July for the next four years to transform perinatal and reproductive health services for women of color.
Health Affairs: (7/12) - There are potential paths forward for state Medicaid agencies, Medicaid health plans, the public health sector, and human services officials to collaborate more effectively—using their varied expertise, technology, and well-established strategies—to make overall improvements to the health-related systems at both state and federal levels. This article identifies four key areas of opportunity for enhanced collaboration and integration between Medicaid and HRSA’s Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant, which is designed to improve the health and well-being of mothers, children, and families.
PR Newswire: (7/11) - Independence Blue Cross is partnering with Cocolife.black and Cayaba Care in Philadelphia to address racial disparities in maternal health care for its members. Cocolife.black is a community resource available to the public designed to support Black and Brown moms during pregnancy, postpartum, and loss of a child or loved one, while Cayaba Care provides pregnant and recently pregnant people with in-office, in-home and virtual services that are personalized based on their needs, as well as wraparound services.
Center for Health Care Strategies: (July 2022) - The State of California is seeking to advance more whole-person care for pregnant and birthing people, and to ensure and expand access to reproductive health care. This Medicaid Policy Cheat Sheet explores what these new initiatives mean for maternity and reproductive health care in the state, and why other states should pay attention.
Data and Innovation
Pew Charitable Trusts: (7/8) - To focus attention on equity issues related to lack of complete and timely data, the Health Impact Project launched the Calling All Sectors: State Agencies Joined for Health in 2019 to support 10 cross-sector teams of community partners and state agencies in implementing strategies to identify and collect data from multiple sources. This article outlines three methods grantees are using to ensure that decision-makers have access to the data they need to boost health equity.
New Research and Reports
Health Services Research: (7/21) - This study aimed to understand the frequency of SDOH diagnosis codes (Z codes) within the electronic health record for patients with prediabetes and diabetes and examine factors influencing the adoption of SDOH documentation in clinical care. The study found that patients with social needs were disproportionately older, female, Black, uninsured, living in low-income and high unemployment neighborhoods, and had a higher number of hospitalizations, obesity, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes than those without a Z-code.
Urban Institute: (7/20) - Despite being acknowledged as a limitation for decades, race and ethnicity data remain incomplete and inconsistent and are not able to be easily shared across different entities in the health care sector, making it difficult to identify and track health inequities and to evaluate efforts to reduce them. This report assessed stakeholders’ suggestions for how to improve the collection of race and ethnicity data for use by health plans and identified high-priority next steps.
Business Wire: (7/14) - Umoja Food For Health, which is a member of the Milken Institute’s Food is Medicine Task Force, published a white paper exploring key findings indicating the outsized influence food and nutrition access have on aspects of individual and community-wide health, and how interventions tailored to address these gaps can have a positive impact on our national health.
Journal of Primary Care & Community Health: (7/13) - This study assessed the relationship between ethnicity, social determinants of health, and measures of health outcomes for children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients with unmet social needs were more likely to be non-White and have Medicaid coverage, and have more acute visits, suggesting such patients were disproportionately affected in obtaining routine pediatric well child care.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: (7/12) - The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched “Raising the Bar,” an initiative to identify how health care can approach its goal of increasing equity. The initiative provides an actionable framework for the entire health care sector to embed equity and excellence throughout its work to achieve optimal health for all, including specific principles, roles and actions that health care organizations can use to begin, or advance, their health equity work.
Health Affairs: (July 2022) - Food insecurity is associated with poor clinical outcomes among adults with diabetes, but associations with nonclinical outcomes, such as missed work, have not been well characterized. The objective of this study was to assess the associations between food insecurity, health-related missed workdays, and overnight hospitalizations. Experiencing food insecurity, compared with being food secure, was associated with increased odds of reporting any health-related missed workdays, more than twice the rate of health-related missed workdays, and increased odds of overnight hospitalization within the prior twelve months.