Sullivan, Murphy to Introduce Bill to Better Coordinate Health Care & Social Services

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced today they will be introducing the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities (LINC) to Address Social Needs Act, legislation that would offer grants to states to establish statewide or regional partnerships to better coordinate the work of health care and social service providers, and improve the health and well-being of Americans as a result.

The senators’ bill would enable states to leverage local expertise and technology through public-private partnerships to connect individuals with food, housing, child care, job training and transportation—services that invariably impact a person’s health care outcomes. The goal of the legislation is to connect health care providers with existing social services in order for every American to be able to access quality care, regardless of where they live. 

“Alaska has a rich history of leading health care innovation,” said Sen. Sullivan. “We were the first state to implement ‘wraparound services’ on a statewide level, and also the first state to successfully implement a 1332 waiver under the Affordable Care Act. Now, many states have followed suit. With this legislation, Senator Murphy and I are endeavoring to bring this spirit of innovation and community empowerment to the nation, helping states bridge the gap between poor health outcomes and the services that already exist in our communities—services that could meaningfully improve a person’s health, long before they need an emergency room. The COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored the disparities that exist in our health care system, and the LINC Act presents an opportunity to create more efficient and effective wellness networks that can meet the unique needs and circumstances of Alaskans and Americans.” 

“What we know in Connecticut is that it’s virtually impossible to separate access to health care from access to safe housing, nutritious food and all of the other important building blocks of a healthy life. So it makes sense to ensure that health care providers are linked with social service providers in our communities,” said Sen. Murphy. “The legislation I’m introducing with Senator Sullivan incentivizes this collaboration by establishing a federal grant program to help states establish referral networks to better coordinate between health care and social services. It helps improve care and resource access for underserved communities to get to the root of the problems people are facing. I’m grateful for the Connecticut Hospital Association and many local organizations for being at the forefront of working on this commonsense objective that will make our communities across Connecticut safer and stronger.”

The LINC to Address Social Needs Act would:

  • Direct grantee states to enter into a public-private partnership with one or more private, non-profit, or philanthropic organizations (including tribal entities) that can manage the resources and referral networks, provide technical assistance, and support participants.
  • Provide one-time seed funding for grantee states to facilitate cross-sector referrals, communication, service coordination and outcome tracking between social service providers and health care organizations. 
  • Offer flexibility for individual states to design networks that are unique to their needs.
  • Direct grantee states to identify one or more health outcome goals, along with a plan to achieve these goals through a community integration network.
  • Direct grantee states to implement a self-sustaining financial structure to support the community integration network within three years of receiving the grant funds.
  • Direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the success of the networks, along with recommendations, in a report to Congress within four years of the first grant being awarded.

The legislation is endorsed by Aligning for Health, Alliance for Better Health, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Council on Social Work Education, Healthcare Leadership Council, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), National Association of ACOs, National Coalition on Health Care, Nemours Children’s Health System, Purchaser Business Group on Health, Signify Health, SNP Alliance, Unite Us, UPMC Health Plan, Well-being and Equity (WE) in the World, and Well Being Trust.

“As an organization dedicated to catalyzing the change that will break down the barriers between health and social service organizations, we applaud Senators Sullivan and Murphy for their leadership in introducing the LINC to Address Social Needs Act,” said Melissa Quick, co-chair of Aligning for Health, “The legislation will help to build and expand shared community resource referral networks, helping to improve coordination between the health care and social service sectors. Aligning for Health looks forward to the passage of this exciting legislation.”

Alaska groups endorsing the legislation include Alaska Children’s Trust, Alaska Primary Care Association, Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, All Alaska Pediatric Partnership, Bean’s Café, Covenant House Alaska, Food Bank of Alaska, Mat-Su Health Foundation, Providence Alaska Medical Center, Recover Alaska, United Way of Anchorage, United Way of Mat-Su, and United Way of Southeast Alaska. 

“We look forward to the passage of this bill to be able to carry forward the work of 2-1-1, fortifying the provider relationships—private, non-profit, government, health providers—and continuing to connect individuals with resources that are needed by so many right now,” said Sue Brogan, chief operating officer of United Way of Anchorage.  

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