Social Determinants Accelerator Act: A Promising Step in Supporting Cross-Sector Initiatives

By Ashley Perry, MPH - Vice President, Client Delivery

Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Tom Cole (R-OK), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) recently introduced the Social Determinants Accelerator Act (SDAA), a bipartisan bill that seeks to improve health and social outcomes by catalyzing cross-sector, evidence-based socio-clinical interventions among Medicaid programs. The legislation aims to address several challenges that we frequently encounter in our work with leading healthcare organizations across the country as we partner to identify and prioritize opportunities to mitigate the impact of SDOH risks on the communities and populations they serve, including:

Complex and Conflicting Rules

Fragmented rules and reporting requirements established by disparate federal and state agencies present barriers to local health and social service providers seeking to address the complex socio-clinical needs of the populations they collectively serve. The SDAA proposes to establish a federal interagency “Social Determinants Accelerator Council” to assist states and localities in overcoming these barriers to deliver more coordinated services.

Lack of Funding for Collaboration

Effective cross-sector collaborations require focused effort, which can be challenging to sustain in resource-constrained environments. The SDAA will provide up to $25 million in planning grants to enable state, local, and tribal governments to develop “Social Determinants Accelerator Plans” that identify specific high-need populations—such as food insecure seniors with diet-related chronic conditions—and then implement evidence-based interventions to address their needs through more holistic care models.

Data Fragmentation and Limited Evidence-Base

A broader evidence-base is needed regarding socio-clinical interventions that effectively mitigate the social risks contributing to excess health care utilization and cost. To date, data fragmentation and liberation challenges, as well as weak study designs, have produced inconclusive results at best. Funding available through the SDAA will directly support more rigorous evaluation methodologies.

In every community and population that Socially Determined has analyzed, our work has confirmed the significant impact that social risks have on healthcare utilization, costs, and outcomes. We believe effective mitigation of these risks begins with systematic identification and prioritization of addressable risk to inform the deployment of tailored, evidence-based, scalable interventions. The SDAA offers a promising opportunity to catalyze these initiatives by providing technical assistance and grant support to states and communities seeking to control costs and improve outcomes for the populations they serve.

 
Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) introducing the bipartisan  Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019  (Source: bustos.house.gov)

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) introducing the bipartisan Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019 (Source: bustos.house.gov)