Bustos Bill Endorsed by Illinois and National Health Care Advocates

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Bustos Introduces Bill at Press Conference

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) introduced the bipartisan Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019. Joining her to introduce the bill are Representatives Jim McGovern (MA-02), Tom Cole (OK-04) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05). 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.

“Before I was elected to Congress, I worked in health care administration for 10 years and I saw firsthand how circumstances could keep families from living a happy, healthy life,” said Bustos. “That’s why this year, our Democratic majority has already passed 10 bills to bring down the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and that’s why I’m working with both parties to introduce this critical legislation. My bill will help states like Illinois address major health care challenges in our communities, including physician shortages, food deserts and safe housing.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Accelerating Social Determinants of Health Act, which seeks to improve understanding of resources available to states as they care for vulnerable populations,” 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 states to know how they can use available funds in a cross-programmatic fashion to the full benefit of their Medicaid populations. By assisting states in developing Social Determinant Accelerator Plans, this legislation enables states to improve health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries by addressing the factors that adversely impact their health status, resulting in more efficient spending of federal and state health care dollars and a healthier population.”

“If we want to improve healthcare in this country, we need to recognize that food is medicine and address the underlying hunger and malnutrition that is causing people to get sick or stay sick,” said McGovern. “I’ve talked to doctors and nurses in Massachusetts who have seen the same patients readmitted time after time because they don’t have the proper food at home to get better. Looking at the social determinants of health will help us finally break down the silos that prevent us from tackling challenges like this – saving us a boatload of time and money, and leading to better healthcare for all Americans.”

“Addressing social determinants in health care can be a helpful part of a comprehensive health care solution in America,” said McMorris Rodgers. “This bipartisan legislation will provide grants to state and local governments and sovereign tribes to address these risk factors to healthy living in their communities.”


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.

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

Click here for photos and here for video of the press conference.


“Our administration recognizes that health is about more than medical services,” said Theresa Eagleson, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. “That’s why the Illinois’ agencies for health, housing, social services and nutrition are working more closely together than ever to develop whole person approaches for vulnerable populations. This federal legislation will provide much-needed support and a catalyst for cross-sector collaboration and innovation.”

“IHA applauds Rep. Bustos for her commitment to ensuring all Illinoisans have the opportunity to reach their full potential for health by targeting resources to address social determinants of health,” said A.J. Wilhelmi, President & CEO of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. “Illinois hospitals and health systems know firsthand the impact on health that food insecurity, exposure to violence, lack of transportation, social isolation and other challenges have on individuals and communities. IHA is pleased to support this bill as an important step toward more meaningfully and efficiently addressing social determinants of health for those participating in the Medicaid program.”

“OSF HealthCare is pleased to support Congresswoman Cheri Bustos’ legislation which will bring needed resources to communities working to address social determinants of health,” said Christopher Manson, Vice President of Government Relations for OSF HealthCare System. “Health providers all across this country have come to recognize that one of the best ways to improve health outcomes for the patients we serve is to address these determinants.  This legislation is a great first step in that direction. OSF HealthCare looks forward to working with Congress member Bustos on this very important piece of legislation.”

“UnityPoint Health has long understood that the overall health of our patients and communities is dependent not only on access to health care services, but also on other essential daily needs like quality schools, nutritious food, secure housing and transportation,” said Sabra Rosener, Vice President of Government and External Affairs at UnityPoint Health. “Through our health system’s efforts and partnerships in the communities we serve, we have made great strides in providing programs, supports and services that meet the larger overall needs of our patients but recognize that there is more work to be done. We applaud Congresswoman Bustos and her co-sponsors in introducing the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019 as this legislation will provide critical infrastructure and support needed in local communities to improve health outcomes for Americans.”

“Hospitals and health systems recognize that addressing the social determinants of health is central to driving value and advancing overall well-being for our communities,” said American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “We applaud the leadership of Representatives Bustos, Cole, McGovern and McMorris Rodgers for introducing the Social Determinants Accelerator Act to improve outcomes for Medicaid patients.”

“Social determinants, like whether a person has stable housing, have a major and lasting impact on health outcomes—especially for the very vulnerable people who are the focus of our work,” said Deborah De Santis, President and CEO of the Corporation for Supportive Housing. “It is therefore essential for decision makers across the various agencies to come together on a regular basis, and within a formal structure, to collectively consider social determinants of health and how we should be comprehensively addressing and meeting these needs through government policies. The sponsors of the Social Determinants Accelerator Act are advocating the kind of interagency collaboration that most effectively aligns resources, delivers services, and vastly improves the health of individuals and families throughout this country.”