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March 1, 2024

Rep. Barragán, Sens. Murphy and Smith Introduce Improving Social Determinants of Health Act


March 1, 2024

Contact: Kevin G. McGuire


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Nanette Barragán (CA-44), a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, and U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (CT), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Tina Smith (MN) on Thursday reintroduced the Improving Social Determinants of Health Act.

Social factors – like housing conditions, access to affordable health care, employment status, food security, environmental safety, and educational opportunity – all play a role in determining individuals’ physical health and well-being. The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act aims to address these issues in a coordinated way to reduce the inequalities they create in the health of individuals and communities. While it’s often believed that good health is only due to medical care, one estimate found that clinical treatment accounts for only 10 to 20 percent of an individual’s overall health. Meanwhile, around 80 to 90 percent of health outcomes are driven by social determinants.

“Social, economic, and environmental factors play a role in our health and can lead to increased rates of illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” said Rep. Barragán. “These social determinants of health contribute to disparities in health outcomes and access to care, and low-income families and communities of color are disproportionately affected. In my district, which is one of the most polluted districts in the nation, we have high rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“Unfortunately, our health care system is largely focused on short-term solutions for these deep-rooted issues. The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act of 2024 will address a critical need by improving the capacity of public health agencies and community-based organizations to collaborate on long-term solutions for our communities.”

“When you don’t have a safe, stable place to live, or you can’t find affordable, nutritious food in your neighborhood, you’re more likely to develop chronic health issues that cost you thousands in medical bills. These structural inequities disproportionately impact communities of color and can have really devastating consequences for peoples’ health. I’m glad to team up with Senator Smith on this legislation to make a worthwhile investment in helping communities create healthy environments and improve long-term health outcomes,” said Sen. Murphy.

“For many Black, Brown, Indigenous and people of color, health outcomes like chronic disease and overall longevity are determined by factors out of their control, often rooted in institutional racism and lasting inequities. Supporting healthy families and communities means more than just access to medical care – it’s also having a safe place to call home, jobs, adequate food and more,” said Sen. Smith. “This legislation will help us chart a better path forward to rectify historical injustices and ensure everyone has the chance to live a healthy life.”

“Social determinants of health, including housing, employment, food security, transportation, and education, contribute significantly to people’s health outcomes over their lifetime,” said Trust for America’s Health CEO Dr. Nadine Garcia. “Communities need more flexible and cross-cutting resources to address these factors that if unaddressed can lead to poor health. CDC’s SDOH program has already assisted dozens of communities in creating SDOH plans and now needs the resources to allow additional grantees to implement these community tailored plans. 

Public health plays an important role in convening partners from different sectors and trusted community leaders to address these non-medical drivers of health. This legislation is an important step in improving health outcomes, reducing overall healthcare spending, and helping reduce health disparities. TFAH is proud to support this bill.”

The Improving Social Determinants of Health Act is endorsed by more than 150 organizations across the country. This legislation will:

  • Authorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a program to improve health outcomes, reduce health inequities, and improve capacity of public health agencies and community-based organizations to address social determinants of health (SDOHs). The 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 to address SDOHs in target communities.
    • Award grants to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education to conduct research on best practices for addressing SDOH.
    • Coordinate, support, and align SDOH activities across the Department of Health and Human Services.
    • Collect and analyze data related to SDOH activities.
  • Authorize $100 million annually for program activities. 

In addition to Rep. Barragán, this legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Tony Cárdenas (CA- 29), André Carson (IN-07),  Kathy Castor (FL-14), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Joseph Morelle (NY-25), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC- t Large) , Raul Ruiz (CA-25), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-At Large).


Congressmember Nanette Barragán represents California’s 44th District.  She sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and works on environmental justice and healthcare issues.  She is also Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).