Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) re-introduced the bipartisan Social Determinants Accelerator Act. Joining her to introduce the bill are Representatives Jim McGovern (MA-02), Tom Cole (OK-04) and Markwayne Mullin (OK-02). The bill would create a federal grant program to empower states and local governments to tackle persistent economic and social conditions — like limited access to health care providers, stable housing, reliable transportation and healthy foods — that often hinder health outcomes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deep disparities in our health system and greatly exacerbated the already persistent barriers too many families in Illinois and across our country face to living healthy lives, such as a lack of access to fresh foods, affordable health care and safe housing to name just a few,” said Bustos. “The Social Determinants Accelerator Act is the innovative bipartisan solution we need to finally take on these longstanding issues at the root and empower local leaders with the tools they need to create healthier communities.”
“It is critical we assist states in developing strategies to improve health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries by addressing the factors that adversely impact their health status. Such strategies will result in more efficient spending of federal and state health care dollars and a healthier population,” said Cole. “While states already have access to extensive federal resources through existing programs, those same programs often operate in silos – making it difficult for them to know how they can use available funds in a cross-programmatic fashion to the full benefit of their Medicaid populations. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Accelerating Social Determinants of Health Act, which seeks to improve states’ understanding of the resources available to them as they care for vulnerable populations.”
“The Social Determinants Accelerator Act will help to finally address the persistent and pervasive social and economic inequities that lead to unequal health care outcomes,” said McGovern. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen all-too-well how a lack of access to healthy food, stable housing, and clean air can all impact vulnerable communities and lead to worse outcomes. In fact, I’ve talked to doctors and nurses in Massachusetts who have seen the same patients readmitted time and again because they don’t have nutritious food at home to take with their medication. Examining the social determinants of health will help us break down the silos that prevent us from tackling challenges like this. I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this important bill.”
“Social determinants, or non-medical contributors, to health are an important part of our strategy to improve patient outcomes and overall health and wellbeing,” Mullin said. “Our legislation will create a grant program for state, local, and Tribal governments alongside helping them better leverage existing federal programs that aid vulnerable populations. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill that will lead to better health care for all Americans, all while saving billions of taxpayer dollars at the same time.”
Economic and social conditions have a powerful impact on our health and wellness. Stable housing, reliable transportation and access to healthy foods are all factors that can make a difference in the prevention and management of many health conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease. Known as social determinants of health, a focus on these non-medical factors can improve health outcomes and wellbeing.
The Social Determinants Accelerator Act will help states and communities develop strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of families, especially those participating in Medicaid. The bill would make up to $25 million available to state, local and tribal governments to develop plans to target social determinants that are negatively impacting high-need patients. Additionally, the legislation would provide technical assistance to grantees to help them implement plans and identify federal authorities, opportunities and strategies to tackle health care challenges.