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The Biden-⁠Harris Administration Takes Action to Improve Health and Wellbeing by Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Content From: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services NewsroomPublished: November 21, 20233 min read

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Cross-posted from: HHS Newsroom

The White House and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is 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 ever U.S. Playbook to Address Social Determinants of Health - (PDF, 857KB). To accompany this, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing a Call to Action to Address Health Related Social Needs, and a Medicaid and CHIP Health-Related Social Needs Framework - (PDF, 386KB). This builds on the Administration’s work to advance health equity by acknowledging that peoples’ social and economic conditions play an important role in their health and wellbeing.

“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 crucial for HHS to tackle health care and public health holistically by addressing patients’ social conditions. Today’s announcement will help to provide opportunities to improve equal access to health care for every American and make progress toward a health system that improves health care outcomes for all Americans instead of advantaged 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. Recognizing this, the first piece of today’s announcement is the U.S. Playbook to Address Social Determinants of Health. The Playbook highlights ongoing and new actions that federal agencies are taking to support health by improving the social circumstances of individuals. This includes initiatives by HHS, Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal agencies to align investments to finance community infrastructure, offer grants to empower communities to address health related social needs, and encourage coordinated use of resources and data to improve health outcomes.

The second resource is Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Health-Related Social Needs (HRSN) Framework - (PDF, 386KB). This document will provide guidance for more states, beyond the current seven, to structure programs that address housing and nutritional insecurity for enrollees in high-need populations. An example is a program providing medically tailored meals or helping homeless youth find and obtain housing. The guidance will also include an accompanying CMS Informational Bulletin - (PDF, 503KB) (CIB).

The final document is HHS’s Call to Action to Address Health Related Social Needs - (PDF, 875KB) to encourage 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 health related social needs. No one sector can do this work alone, so HHS is issuing a Call to Action to collaborate so that together we can achieve a future in which everyone, regardless of social circumstances, has access to aligned, high-quality, person-centered health and social care systems that can improve health and well-being. This Call to Action builds on the nation-wide call to action in the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities and complements the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to implement the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health - (PDF, 776KB).