Direct access to SDOH services

Focusing on food security and economic vulnerability

The second of a 3-part series in Responding to COVID-19 and Beyond

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Innovation showcase

Through a curated and highly selective process, the Selection Committee nominated the following ventures to present on June 17. 


Expert Panel

The webinar started with a panel featuring the following experts:

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R.J. Briscione

Senior Director of SDOH at CVS Health

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Therese Wetterman

Director Learning Network at Health Leads    

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Elizabeth Osius


Statement of need

Background and Need


Social determinants of health drive 60% of health outcomes and are responsible for health inequality between individuals living in low-income, vulnerable communities, and their counterparts. These social challenges are expected to rise to historic levels as a result of COVID-19, particularly food insecurity and economic vulnerability. 

More than 49M people and 13% of US households are already food insecure, and many more are unable to obtain healthy food. Food insecurity - and demand for support from food banks - spiked immediately in the weeks following shelter-in-place orders. Feeding America’s research highlights that with an increase in unemployment and child poverty, there could be a 9.3% increase in the overall child food insecurity rate, and “[brings] the total child food insecurity rate potentially to 24.5%,” or 1 in 4 children in the US. Among the general population, Feeding America reported that “within a week of CDC guidelines on social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, 41% of food banks were already reporting an immediate critical funding shortfall.” 

Food insecurity is only one symptom of the greater economic vulnerability experienced by low-income communities. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that no state in the country has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest-income renters. Low wage workers are more likely to lose their jobs during this crisis. Many low-income families have volatile incomes and would not be able to cover a $400 surprise expense. Housing, access to work, and financial health are also critical to health and wellbeing. 




With record high levels of food insecurity and historic levels of unemployment, this Focus Areas calls for solutions that can address direct access to social determinants solutions in innovative ways – notably 1) food insecurity and 2) economic vulnerability (e.g., workforce development). Moving beyond coordinating access to programs and services that address social determinants, we are interested in solutions that can directly deliver or enable direct resources and services to Medicaid beneficiaries. For example, solutions could address upstream challenges such as food supply chains to direct services that are enabled by technology. We are interested in solutions that consider operational sustainability with insight into creative contracting and partnerships with Medicaid plans and/or State Medicaid offices. In addition, scale and impact are crucial, and we believe technology would be critical.