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'No One Should Go Hungry': How the Root Cause Coalition is Working to Change Healthcare's Priorities

December 19, 2016 | Becker's Hospital Review

While the influence of social determinants on the individual health of patients seems intuitively obvious, health systems have largely failed to address health disparities within their own communities. However, with the rise of value-based care and population health management, these issues are getting more difficult to ignore, and the Root Cause Coalition formed to help health systems address those issues.

The Root Cause Coalition is a member-driven, nonprofit organization created to take on issues pertaining to social determinants of health like poverty, housing instability and hunger to improve the health of America's disenfranchised communities. Members range from nationally known nonprofits to small businesses and community organizations, and they addresses these issues by engaging communities in collaborative population health projects and deploying the organization's collective influence to inform public policy.

During the Root Cause Coalition's First Annual National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health in Chicago on Dec. 5, Randy Oostra, chairman of the coalition and president and CEO of Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica healthcare system; and Lisa Ryerson, vice chair of the coalition and the president of the AARP Foundation, discussed the organization's goals for the future and its focus on hunger as a health issue.

"The problem of food insecurity in our land of plenty is in fact a systemic problem, not a problem of individual failure," said Ms. Ryerson. "It's just this simple — no one deserves to be hungry."

One of the Root Cause Coalition's research initiatives, Tackling Hunger to Improve Health in Older Americans, is focused on adults over 50 years of age who experience food insecurity and are afflicted with chronic illness. The study is the result of a partnership with the CDC and is being conducted by the Public Health Institute.

Read the full article in Becker's Hospital Review.