A new policy could have dramatic and lasting effects on public health, as a major government program takes a turn toward addressing social determinants.
In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the first CMS Innovation Center pilot project, called the Accountable Health Communities Model, which will test how patients’ health can be improved by addressing social and environmental needs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will oversee the five-year test with an investment of $157 million to bridge care with social services.
The Accountable Health Communities Model will award funds to up to 44 “bridge organizations” to screen people for issues related to social determinants of health, and to refer those people to community organizations that can help them meet their needs, aligning clinics with the nearby organizations already working to address and conquer factors that can affect health. Bridge organizations will take inventory of the services available to local people and provide community referral, community service navigation and community service alignment for their patients.