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The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 Seeks SDoH Innovation through New Grants

August 03, 2021  |  Article


Brian Lash, Managing Partner and CEO

The bill would add $25 million for state and local governments to create projects that improve health and social outcomes.

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 seeks SDoH innovation through federal grants

Originally introduced in 2019, the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 (SDAA) has seen new life with the 117th Congress. The bill, which seeks to promote community-level action on the social determinants via $25 million in federal grants, has growing support in the House of Representatives.

Cheri Bustos, Democratic Congresswoman from Illinois and SDAA sponsor, explains that the bill is intended "…to empower our local communities to address the day-to-day factors that affect their lives."1

Representative Bustos is joined by 44 cosponsors. The latest among them is Representative Frank Lucas, Republican from Oklahoma, whose support is part of a larger trend toward bipartisan collaboration on the Social Determinants of Health.

The bill goes beyond funding and includes technical assistance to navigate the complexities of an SDoH implementation

SDAA establishes its purpose by leading with principles familiar to every healthcare practitioner. Its Findings section begins, “There is a significant body of evidence showing that economic and social conditions have a powerful impact on individual and population health outcomes and well-being, as well as medical costs.”2 Against this backdrop the SDAA’s aims are established as follows:

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The SDAA legislation proposes an interagency council that would oversee grant awards and support grantees

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act seeks to achieve its aims via two mechanisms: The creation of an interagency council and the establishment of new grants for the development of social determinant accelerator plans.

The Social Determinants Accelerator Interagency Council would be led by The Secretary of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Its federal membership would comprise representatives from The Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation, among other agencies. The council would also include non-federal representation from state, local and tribal health and human service agencies and state Medicaid agencies.

In addition to eliciting and considering grant proposals, the council would support awardees with technical assistance to navigate the regulatory and statutory challenges of implementing their plans.

Federal grants created under the program would total $25 million and may be awarded to eligible states, local governments and tribes for the creation of social determinant accelerator plans. Awarded plans would target high-need individuals, set targets for health and social outcomes and link results to return on investment.

While a 2019 version of the bill failed to find support, the present version has federal and non-federal supporters alike

Following its latest arrival on the House floor in April 2021 the Social Determinants Accelerator Act was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. The Subcommittee considered the bill in July, then voted to forward the bill to Full Committee.3

While the SDAA failed to find momentum in 2019, its 2021 incarnation is met with strong support that transcends the political sphere. In July, Aligning for Health, a membership organization which, “brings a team of federal and state experts to address the issues that challenge the common purpose of our members,” authored a letter of support for the new legislation. Among the many organizations echoing their support were Humana, the American Medical Association and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.4

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021 is part of a larger wave of SDoH legislation.

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act is part of a growing body of proposed legislation aimed at improving health outcomes by addressing social risks. The Social Determinants for Moms Act, Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2021 and the bipartisan Housing Supply and Affordability Act all seek to address unmet needs in the community. The trend goes beyond Washington and speaks to broader interest – and action – to effect healthcare change by addressing the social determinants.



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