The Biden-Harris administration is taking action to improve health and wellness by addressing the social determinants of health

The White House and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are releasing several resources to help support federal agencies, states, local and tribal governments to better coordinate health care, public health and social services. Specifically, the White House is releasing the first US Playbook for addressing the social determinants of health. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is publishing a Call to Action to Address Social Health-Related Needs as well as a Framework for Medicaid and CHIP Social Health-Related Needs. This builds on the Administration’s work to promote health equity by recognizing that people’s social and economic conditions play an important role in their health and well-being.

It is clear that the health of our people does not exist in a vacuum, but it is affected by our access to stable housing, healthy food and clean air to breathe, said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. It is critical for HHS to comprehensively address health care and public health by addressing patients’ social conditions. Today’s announcement will help ensure opportunities to improve equal access to health care for every American and make progress toward a health care system that improves health care outcomes for all Americans rather than a privileged few.

The social and economic conditions of the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality of life outcomes. In recognition of this, the first piece of today’s post is the US book on addressing the social determinants of health. The Playbook highlights current and emerging actions federal agencies are taking to support health by improving individuals’ social circumstances. This includes initiatives by HHS, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal investment matching agencies to finance community infrastructure, offer grants to empower communities to address social health-related needs, and encourage coordinated use of resources and data to improve health outcomes.

The second resource is the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Health-Related Social Needs Framework (HRSN). This document will provide guidance for more states, beyond the current seven, to structure programs that address housing and food insecurity for enrollees in high-need populations. An example is a program that provides medically adjusted meals or helps homeless youth find and obtain housing. The guidance will also include an accompanying CMS Information Bulletin (CIB).

The final document is the HHS Call to Action to Address Social Health-Related Needs to foster cross-sector partnerships among those working in health care, social services, public and environmental health, government, and health information technology to create a stronger, more integrated health and social care system through shared decision-making and by leveraging community resources to address unmet social health-related needs. No one sector can do this work alone, so HHS is issuing a Call to Action to work together to achieve a future in which everyone, regardless of social circumstances, has access to harmonized, high-quality, person-centred health and social care systems care that can improve health and well-being. This call to action builds on the nationwide call to action in the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities and complements the work of the Biden-Harris administrations to implement the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.

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