Legislation introduced to better address social determinants for Medicaid populations

social determinants for health

The bipartisan coalition from the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new legislation to improve resources- including grant funding to better address social determinants of health (SDOH) for state Medicaid populations.

This measure will provide grants and technical assistance to state, local and tribal governments aimed at developing evidence-based approaches to program and services. It will benefit officials, states and communities as they develop strategies to leverage existing programs that address food, housing, transportation and workforce issues.

The bill will give state and local officials the resources they require to get beyond the silos and develop innovative ways to complex problems, according to Krista Drobac, co-chair of Aligning for Health. The coalition includes health insurers, providers and vendors.

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act was introduced by Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois; Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma; Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts; and Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Washington. Factors including SDOH are access to housing, food and transportation. Research has linked them to the prevention and management of many health conditions including diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

The legislation would:

Create an interagency technical advisory council. It would include experts from the federal departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor and Agriculture. State and local government officials and community-based organizations will also be a part of it.

The Council would work alongside the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to award up to $25 million in grants to state, local and tribal government to develop SDOH plans.

These plans will target high-need Medicaid patients, identify key outcomes for interventions. It will include a plan to link data across programs to measure the impact of the new approach.

The council will extend technical assistance to grantees to help them implement their plans by recognizing opportunities and strategies for blending funds and designing evaluations.

Tom Nickels, executive vice president at the American Hospital Association said that even if quality care is available, often social determinants prevent individuals from getting access to healthcare or achieve health goals.