The Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act, introduced on March 1, 2021, would award $150 million in 2022 to help states fund social determinants of health (SDoH) programs.
Introduced to Congress by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), this funding would help states establish statewide or regional partnerships, as well as public-private partnerships to improve care coordination and connect individuals to social services, such as housing, food, transportation, employment, and other essential needs.
Cross-sector collaborations are often challenging and complicated, but this legislation encourages and incentivizes states to build more effective, holistic, and sustainable solutions that are tailored specifically to their population of people.
Key aspects of the new legislation
The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would grant the awards, giving one-time seed funding to specific states based on competitive need. The goal is to initiate or foster relationships between the health care and social services systems in each state in order to better address the needs of state residents.
If a state receives funding, here’s what they’ll need to focus on:
- Building a new or enhancing an existing technology platform that is interoperable, promotes connectivity, and enables proper coordination.
- Establishing connections to improve communication, service coordination, referral management, outcome tracking, and more.
- Providing support and technical assistance to all participants in the network.
- Planning and designing sustainable funding models to support this long term, as well as building a future financial structure that makes this infrastructure self-sustaining.
There are countless case studies documenting the benefit of building a coordinated care network, which many health plans have already invested in. Not only are health costs reduced, but delivery of social services are improved, and greater insights are developed, making it possible for all parties to predict the most pressing needs of the individual.
Building a successful network
The best partnerships are built on trust and alignment and this new innovative approach to health presents unique challenges and complications to all involved. Creating and implementing an infrastructure takes time, communication, and effort, as well as funding--which is exactly why the LINC to Address Social Needs Act of 2021 is needed.
When community-focused networks are built, the following goals can be achieved:
- Widen the scope of SDoH service delivery
- Assess individual needs
- Deliver more health-related services to hard-to-reach populations
- Standardized care management and administrative efforts
- Track the success of referrals
- Reduce overall medical costs
- Analyze and improve risk management
- Strengthen individual health outcomes
- Close the gaps on health inequities
Many social service providers, including community-based organizations (CBOs), are underfunded, understaffed, and over capacity—but this act facilitates a future in which their efforts are not just recognized, but are financially supported by the self-sustaining model.
Health extends far beyond the doctor’s office—and the demand for housing assistance, food delivery, transportation, and other essential services isn’t slowing down. When healthcare providers and CBOs work in an integrated, collaborative, and goal-aligned manner, they reimagine a future in which all aspects of health are prioritized.
If implemented, the LINC to Address Social Needs Act of 2021 would, no doubt, strengthen the local, regional, and state systems, resulting in more deliberate cross-sector coordination, cost-effective spending, and, most importantly, greater health outcomes for individuals.
At Healthify, we know the value of cross-sector partnerships and it’s our mission to work with both payers and CBOs to ensure that trust is built, goals are aligned, and long-term solutions are created. We’d love to share more about our mission and our work. Please reach out if you have any questions or want a demo.