The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many health equity gaps that have long existed. The long-term impact of the pandemic on low-income communities has yet to be fully realized. As a result, the demand for social services will continue to rise.
Currently, federal and state government, payers, and providers are responsible for funding the community organizations that deal with the critical, nonclinical drivers of health that impact up to 60% of a person’s overall health and wellbeing. These drivers are the social determinants of health (SDOH), and they include healthy food for the food insecure, stable housing for those who are housing insecure, and utility assistance for families who are at financial risk.
While the American Rescue Plan has brought money into communities across the country to combat economic hardships by supporting small businesses, public transportation systems, healthcare providers, and social services, these funds will eventually run out.
What will happen to the community organizations that are underfunded, understaffed, and overutilized, especially in the hard-hit, low-income, and rural communities where needs are most acute?