Bustos, Cole, McGovern, Mullin Introduce Key Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Overall Health Outcomes

Bustos Bill Earns More Than 80 Endorsements

Biden Administration Calls for Increase in Funding for Program Modeled After Bustos Bill

WASHINGTON – 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.”

BACKGROUND

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.

Last Congress, Congresswoman Bustos utilized her role on the House Appropriations Committee to establish and fund a first-of-its-kind $3 million pilot program, modeled after the Social Determinants Accelerator Act. Grant applications for this program are expected to open this week on April 18, 2021.

In the Biden Administration’s recent budget proposal, $153 million in funding was included for this program established by Congresswoman Bustos.

A one-pager on the bill can be found here and a section-by-section can be found here.

A full list of endorsers can be found here.

SUPPORT FOR THE LEGISLATION

“Aligning for Health is proud to support the reintroduction of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act,” said Melissa Quick, co-chair of Aligning for Health. “The legislation will catalyze cross-sector collaboration and will give state and local officials the resources they need to get beyond the siloes and develop innovative solutions to complex problems.”

“CSH strongly supports the Social Determinants Accelerator Act,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), “The Supportive Housing Industry for decades has seen the impact on the health of our residents and potential residents, due to the lack of access to the SDOH including housing, food, and safe, thriving communities. We have also seen the impact of systemic and institutional racism, that has made access to SDOH less likely for communities of color. We are hopeful that as communities have more accurate information and the ability to work more effectively across sectors, as supported by the Social Determinants Accelerator Act, the opportunities for those needs to be addressed will improve.”

“LISC invests in quality affordable housing, safety, good education, job opportunities and financial stability because they all factor into the health and well-being of a community. We enthusiastically support the Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Act because it will help states devise approaches that leverage the expertise of partners from multiple sectors – including community based organizations – who are committed to advancing health equity and closing interconnected racial health and wealth gaps,” said Julia Ryan, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

“As a health insurer committed to address health disparities, UPMC Health Plan strongly supports this common-sense, bipartisan bill which enhances the ability of the health care payers and providers to mitigate the causes of inequities with state collaborations,” said John Lovelace, President, Government Programs, UPMC Health Plan. “In addition to providing new tools to states looking at these issues, the Social Determinants Accelerator Act provides more resources to enhance existing state and community-based partnerships to address health inequities.” 

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