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New Barragán Legislation Would Address Health Disparities by Improving the Social Determinants of Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      

April 29, 2020


Washington, D.C. — COVID-19 highlights a disturbing trend we see in almost all public health crises: the consequences are most severe in low-income and minority communities. To explore and address the social factors that drive these disparities, today Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán announced the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2020.

“The COVID-19 crisis affects all of us, but it is the latest disease to infect and kill Latinos and African-Americans at higher rates than people in the rest of the population. I have seen what this crisis is doing to communities in my district, especially those that are low-income and don’t have access to the services they need,” Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán said. “The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act will address the social, economic and environmental factors that drive this inequality and fund programs that address these issues.”

Social factors – like housing conditions, employment status, food security, environmental safety, and educational opportunity – all play a role in determining individuals’ physical health and well-being. Barragán’s bill (H.R. 6561) aims to address these issues in a coordinated way as they drive inequalities in the health of individuals and communities.

The legislation would create a new Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Through grants and guidance, this program would empower public health departments and community organizations to lead efforts to build integrated systems that research and address the social factors that negatively impact health in their regions.

The SDOH program would:

  • Coordinate across CDC to ensure programs consider and incorporate SDOH in grants and activities.
  • Award grants to state, local, territorial, and Tribal health agencies and organizations to address SDOHs in target communities.
  • Award grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education to conduct research on SDOH best practices; provide technical assistance, training and evaluation assistance to target community grantees; and disseminate best practices.
  • Coordinate, support, and align SDOH activities at CDC with other agencies, such as CMS and others.
  • Collect and analyze data related to SDOH activities.


The bill is supported by more than 130 national organizations focused on public health, led by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).  A list of the original endorsing organizations can be found here.

“TFAH believes this legislation is an important step to addressing the non-medical social needs of communities and urges Congressional support. The legislation would empower public health departments and community organizations to act as chief health strategists in their communities and lead efforts to convene partners across sectors to build integrated systems and programs that improve health and health equity,” TFAH President and CEO John Auerbach said. “The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2020 is an important next step in improving health outcomes, would reduce overall healthcare spending and help address health inequities.”

The bill has 18 original co-sponsors in the U.S. House: Congressmembers G. K. Butterfield (N.C.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Nydia M. Velázquez (N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Gwen Moore (Wisc.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Sylvia R. Garcia (Texas), Grace F. Napolitano (Calif.), Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Dan Kildee (Mich), Joseph D. Morelle (N.Y.),Danny K. Davis (Ill.), and Brian Higgins (N.Y.).




Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.