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HHS Secretary Azar says government may foot the bill for social determinants of health

Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said Nov. 14 during a speech that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may soon allow hospitals and health systems to directly pay for housing, healthy food or other solutions that address the social determinants of health.

HHS spends over $1 trillion a year on healthcare for seniors and low-income people through Medicare and Medicaid, which is far more than spending on other federal programs. “We believe we could spend less money on healthcare – and, most important, help Americans live healthier lives – if we did a better job of aligning federal health investments with our investments in non-healthcare needs,” Azar said.

Azar did not say when the new model would be launched.

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