WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA), members of the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus, held the Caucus’s first briefing focused on the role of transportation as a social determinant of health.
The briefing highlighted transportation barriers that impact individuals’ health and potential solutions to improve overall health outcomes. The panel also discussed the role of Congress in scaling up and replicating successful programs to address social needs across the country.
“In the district I serve, too many folks lack access to pharmacies for prescription drugs, medical facilities for doctor’s appointments and grocery stores for nutritious food simply due to transportation challenges. COVID-19 has only made these issues worse,” said Representative Bustos. In the 61605 ZIP code in Peoria, Illinois, I’ve met a woman who has to ride the bus for 16 stops just to reach a grocery store. Earlier this year, the only pharmacy in that community shut its doors. That’s why I helped establish the bipartisan House Social Determinants of Health Caucus earlier this year to address the challenges too many Americans face in reaching the basic necessities for a healthy life.”
“To improve health in the long run, we must look at the full picture of patients’ lives; this includes social determinants of health, like transportation. Oklahoma’s Second District is an incredibly rural part of America, and we are not alone. Nearly 20 percent of the country’s population comes from the most rural areas, where they are far from health care, schooling, groceries, and other necessities. A huge thank you from the Sooner State to Aligning for Health and my fellow Caucus co-chairs for working together to find solutions to these disparities, and to ensure every constituent’s health needs are met,” said Representative Mullin.
“Access to affordable and reliable transportation impacts every part of our lives—from where we work, live, and go to school, to how we access healthcare and what food we eat.” said Representative Butterfield. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the way social determinants of health, like access to reliable and affordable transportation, negatively impacts the health of our most vulnerable communities, especially communities of color and those in rural areas. Today’s inaugural Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus briefing on the intersection between transportation and health is an important step in coming up with innovation, bipartisan solutions to these challenging issues.
“A lack of access to transportation can mean limited access to health care, employment, education, social services, and many other social determinants of health. While it impacts Americans from all walks of life and in all areas of life, it often hits our most vulnerable communities the hardest. This includes essential workers, senior citizens, and those of lesser means, like my own family growing up,” said Representative Carbajal. “I will continue to advocate for better public transportation and seek out better, smarter solutions to this challenge so Americans can live a richer life.”
In July, the Members founded the bipartisan Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus focused on putting forward solutions to tackle health disparities and empower community leaders to combat the persistent social factors that harm long-term health.
Bustos has long been a champion for addressing social determinants, including her leadership of the bipartisan Social Determinants Accelerator Act which 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.