If you needed more proof that social determinants of health (SDOH) — those factors that influence our health outcomes — are driving healthcare policy and strategy, you received it this week. Two major developments — one public, one private — strengthen the case that if home care providers just focus on patients’ basic health and wellness, they are on the right side of value-based care.

The public development occurred Wednesday when the Department of Health and Human Services released guidance allowing states to address health-related social needs for people with Medicaid coverage through the use of “in lieu of services and settings” in Medicaid managed care. The option, according to the news release, will help states offer alternative benefits that target housing instability, and food instability and other health-related social needs.

The announcement follows the release of the Biden administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which offers several ways to reduce hunger among seniors. These include supporting legislation to create a pilot program to test medically tailored meals under Medicare fee-for-service.

Then there was this week’s private development: a partnership between aging-in-place platform healthAlign, a subsidiary of The Helper Bees, and food-as-medicine platform Season Health. The initiative’s goal is to provide nutrition benefits to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. The three service offerings to MA members include shelf-stable pantry boxes, grocery errands and a food-as-medicine bundle.

“Whether it’s in the form of pantry boxes, grocery cards or meals, an increasing number of Medicare Advantage plans are investing in ways to provide innovative food benefits for their members,” Josh Hix, co-founder and CEO of Season, said in a news release.

MA, which is the fastest-growing part of Medicare, is surpassing traditional Medicare in part because of its emphasis on those health perks — be it food or home care or transportation — that are pivotal to living well.

Intuitively, I believe, most humans know what it takes to be well — social connections, physical activity, good food. Increasingly, it seems the healthcare system finally is catching up to us.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected].