by James A. Bacon
Virginia has improved from 20th place last year to 15th place this year among the 50 states in America’s Health Rankings compiled by the United Health Foundation. The report cited the Commonwealth as one of three states that “made the largest improvements in the rankings since 2018.” (See the Virginia health profile here.)
Virginia strengths: a low crime rate, a low percentage of children in poverty, and high immunization coverage among children. Since 2012, smoking has decreased from 20.9% of adults to 14.9%. Air pollution has decreased, and so has infant mortality.
Virginia challenges: a low rate of mental health providers, low per capita public health funding, low meningococcal immunization among adolescents. Drug deaths are up, frequent mental distress has increased, and so has the rate of chlamydia.
Overall, the story is a positive one. To what does the Commonwealth owe this improvement?
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association credits Medicaid expansion and “the hard work of Virginia’s health care community.”
“Hospitals and health systems have consistently demonstrated a commitment to that effort [of improving health for all Virginians] through action and deeds such as steadfast support for increased health care access, and ongoing work to enhance health care quality, safety, and service in community across the Commonwealth,” says VHHA President Sean T. Connaughton. “More work needs to be done, but these year-over-year gains are proof that progress is being made.”
The VHHA’s claims regarding hospital achievements need to be subjected to some critical examination to make sure they’re not just cherry-picked P.R. fluff. Still, the VHHA’s emphasis on healthcare quality and safety seems entirely appropriate.
Virginia needs to move beyond the debilitating debate over who pays for health care and focus now on improving efficiency, productivity, quality and outcomes with the long-term goal of driving down health care expenditures that impose a crippling burden on businesses and privately insured patients. If we can’t get control over the cost of health care, insurance premiums will continue to climb and access will always be an issue.There are currently no comments highlighted.