Feds to examine link between social services, healthcare costs: 3 things to know

Federal officials are looking to bolster their case for increased federal and state spending on anti-violence, social service and other programs to improve people's lives and confine healthcare cost growth, according to a USA Today report.

Here are three things to know about the initiative.

1. CMS will spend nearly $160 million in grants to community groups, healthcare providers or other public or private entities that will screen patients for unmet social needs and connect them with services that assist with housing, hunger, interpersonal violence and other social ills, according to the report. CMS will then assess whether this access improves health and decreases costs. 

2. According to USA Today, Darshak Sanghavi, MD, who heads population and preventive health at CMS' Innovation Center, said of the initiative,  "It's not that people don't agree that [social services are] important and it's not that they don't care, but we haven't adequately made the case that it saves money and has value. Many, many people of various political persuasions can agree that saving money would be beneficial, especially if we are helping people with their underlying social problems."

3. The initiative comes at a time when various studies have shown how stable housing and other social supports keep people out of the hospital, according to the report. For instance, Yale public health professor Elizabeth Bradley's 2013 book, The American Health Care Paradox, analyzed global healthcare and determined higher social service spending led to better overall health. And more recently, a report by the Prevention Institute calls for far more focus on the "trauma-plagued communities," according to USA Today. The report is funded Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit in Northern California.


More articles on healthcare finance:

St. Christopher's Hospital for Children stops heart surgeries: 4 things to know
Passport Health Plan, Evolent Health come together to create Medicaid Center of Excellence: 4 things to know
Anthem, Eli Lilly embark on value-based pricing initiative for pharmaceuticals



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