Over the next five years, A Healthier Democracy aims to engage 1,000,000 low-income Americans by providing assistance in accessing and enrolling in federal cash assistance programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program, Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families while they wait in healthcare settings. We strive to secure over $100,000,000 in assistance for families nationwide, while also helping 500,000 nonvoters cast their votes for the first time in elections, all in an effort to help create A Healthier Democracy.
Goals: Creating a New Paradigm to Address Health Equity and Heal Our Democracy
Context: 60 Million Americans are Not Registered to Vote, Impacting Health Outcomes
In the U.S., there are over 60 million eligible yet unregistered voters. These voters often feel the government does not care about them, nor trust it to make a difference in their lives. They are also the same groups most marginalized by our healthcare system. Healthcare facilities offer unique opportunities to engage these individuals, with healthcare professionals acting as reliable conduits of trust. A Healthier Democracy runs two national programs, Link Health and its sister initiative, Vot-ER, which utilize healthcare waiting rooms to connect Americans with $80 billion of untapped federal and state aid programs to directly impact their lives and then help them register to vote. This combination of healthcare and non-partisan democratic engagement harnesses interdisciplinary expertise to address health equity, rebuild trust in government, and empower the most vulnerable patients in our democracy – helping to demonstrate that the government does care and that all voices do matter.
Opportunity: $80B in Federal and State Programs Go Unused Every Year
Link Health connects patients waiting in healthcare settings with vastly underutilized federal and state cash assistance programs that directly address the social determinants of health. These include:
- Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP): $30/mo benefit for high-speed internet. 2022 enrollment rate: 22%.
- Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP): Up to $10,000 to cover rent payments. Only 11% of allocated funds were utilized in 2021.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Average $450 annual benefit. Only 16% of eligible households received assistance in 2019.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): About $400 monthly in direct cash assistance per family. Only 22% of eligible families benefited in 2019.
Assets: Electrifying Our Existing Infrastructure With Access to Federal Cash Assistance Programs
A Healthier Democracy’s existing infrastructure with two thriving programs, Vot-ER and Link Health, has demonstrated significant reach across the nation with a considerable presence in key states. Vot-ER has established partnerships with over 700 health institutions, including hospitals, community health centers, and medical schools, and has developed a low-tech, non-interruptive, and nearly frictionless apparatus to help register 80,000 Americans to vote in health settings in all 50 states and DC. In parallel, Link Health has been successful in its efforts to connect patients with crucial aid programs, distributing over $100,000 in aid in ACP funding to low-income Americans waiting in healthcare settings. By leveraging a place-based, healthcare-focused access point, enrolling eligible individuals in these underutilized benefit programs through Link Health, and complementing those efforts by supporting voter registration through Vot-ER, we aim to provide a brand new paradigm for engaging our most vulnerable Americans.