White House releases playbook to address the social determinants of health

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Key Takeaways

On November 16, the White House released the first-ever U.S. Playbook to Address Social Determinants of Health (the playbook), a policy guide aimed at integrating social services, public health, and the healthcare system to improve health outcomes in local communities by breaking down federal agency and local system silos. The playbook was released alongside the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Call to Action and Medicaid and CHIP’s Framework

What’s included in the playbook

The playbook, developed in consultation with several counties, has three pillars:  

  • Expand data gathering and sharing: The administration is committed to improving data collection, interoperability, and analytics capabilities to better understand and address SDOHs. This includes investing in data collection and sharing infrastructure to facilitate interagency collaboration while ensuring data security and privacy. 
  • Support flexible funding to address social needs: The administration plans to make it easier to use federal funds and grants to address both traditional clinical care and SDOH-related needs simultaneously. This includes providing guidance to state Medicaid directors on how to better use funding to meet SDOH needs and informing hospitals on how to use SDOH-related activities to qualify for tax-exempt status. 
  • Support backbone organizations: These organizations act as dedicated relationship coordinators and personalized navigators for individuals navigating the SDOH ecosystem. The administration is launching a National Learning Community to provide these organizations with educational and technical assistance, data security training, and support in payment operations for community care hubs. 

Counties are key administrators of Medicaid through 843 hospitals, 758 nursing homes, 750 behavioral health authorities and 1,943 county public health departments that provide essential health services. 

Why this is important to counties

The playbook outlines the role of counties as a “backbone organization” and a key partner in advancing social determinant of health (SDOH) initiatives. As owners and administrators of local health and human services systems, SDOH accounts for as much as 50 percent of all county health outcomes. Counties can leverage this playbook as a guide to integrate social services into their public health strategies, work to modernize their data sharing infrastructure and secure flexible funding, for existing SDOH initiatives in their communities, specifically through the Medicaid program, key source of SDOH funding at the local level.    

Learn more about the Social Determinants of Health

Learn More   The County Role in Public Health   Counties & ARPA: The SDoH

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