House caucus hosts first briefing on role of transportation as social determinant of health

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U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), G. K Butterfield (D-NC), and Salud Carbajal (D-CA), members of the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus, held the Caucus’s first briefing Thursday on the role of transportation as a social determinant of health.

The panel discussed how transportation barriers can impact individuals’ health and potential solutions to improve health outcomes, as well as the role Congress can play in scaling up and replicating programs that address social needs across the country.

“In the district I serve, too many folks lack access to pharmacies for prescription drugs, medical facilities for doctor’s appointments, and grocery stores for nutritious food simply due to transportation challenges. COVID-19 has only made these issues worse,” Bustos said. In the 61605 ZIP code in Peoria, Illinois, I’ve met a woman who has to ride the bus for 16 stops just to reach a grocery store. Earlier this year, the only pharmacy in that community shut its doors. That’s why I helped establish the bipartisan House Social Determinants of Health Caucus earlier this year to address the challenges too many Americans face in reaching the basic necessities for a healthy life.”

In July, the members founded the Caucus to put forward solutions that would tackle health disparities and empower community leaders to combat the persistent social factors that harm long-term health.

“To improve health in the long run, we must look at the full picture of patients’ lives; this includes social determinants of health, like transportation,” Mullin said. “Oklahoma’s Second District is an incredibly rural part of America, and we are not alone. Nearly 20 percent of the country’s population comes from the most rural areas, where they are far from health care, schooling, groceries, and other necessities. A huge thank you from the Sooner State to Aligning for Health and my fellow Caucus co-chairs for working together to find solutions to these disparities and to ensure every constituent’s health needs are met.”