The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently released a variety of resources aimed at improving coordination between health care, public health, and social services. One of these resources is a 54-page handbook that focuses on addressing the social determinants of health.
This handbook describes the actions that federal agencies take to support health by addressing individuals’ social circumstances. It includes programs from various departments such as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Environmental Protection Agency. These programs aim to align investments to support community infrastructure, provide grants to empower communities to address health-related social needs, and promote the coordinated use of resources and data to improve health outcomes.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra emphasized the importance of addressing patients’ social conditions to holistically improve health care and public health. He discussed how access to stable housing, healthy food, and clean air can greatly affect people’s overall health. Secretary Besser expressed his belief that focusing on these factors can help ensure equal access to health care for all Americans and contribute to improving health care outcomes for all.
In addition to the handbook, HHS also introduced a Call to Action to Address Health-Related Social Needs and a Medicaid and CHIP Health-Related Social Needs Framework. These resources are designed to further support efforts to address the social determinants of health and create opportunities for improved health care access and outcomes for all Americans.