Virginia improves health ranking in national report
United Health Foundation's “America’s Health Rankings” rates commonwealth 15th.
Virginia ranks as one of the most improved states in health metrics, according to United Health Foundation’s annual report “America’s Health Rankings” released Monday.
The commonwealth ranked 15th in the 2019 report, which conducts a state-by-state analysis of national health by evaluating health, environmental and socioeconomic data.
Scoring is based on 35 measures across five categories, including behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care and health outcomes. Data sources used in reporting included the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Virginia was one of three states that made the largest improvements in the rankings since 2018, rising from 20th place last year. Its most significant areas of improvement were in health outcomes and behaviors, according to the report, and the higher ranking comes after nearly a year of expanded Medicaid access in the state.
“Achieving that goal requires commitment from many stakeholders and partners,” Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton said in a statement. “Hospitals and health systems have consistently demonstrated a commitment to that effort through action…more work remains to be done, but these year-over-year gains are proof that progress is being made.”
More than 342,000 Virginians were able to enroll in Medicaid since Jan. 1, after the state legislature passed broader eligibility standards last year.
Among Virginia’s positives, according to the report: Smoking has decreased from 29% to 14.9% among adults since 2012; air pollution has decreased 49% since 2003; infant mortality has decreased 44% since 1990. Challenges cited include a 52% increase in drug-related deaths over the past three years; an increase of 21% in frequent mental distress over the past four years; low rate of mental-health providers and low per capita public health funding.
Virginia has received strong rankings in other surveys, VHHA said. The fall 2019 Hospital Safety Grade scores rated the state third in the nation for health care patient safety, based on the number of “A” graded hospitals in Virginia.
Virginia also received an “A” grade in the 2019 “State-by-State Report Card on Access to Palliative Care in Our Nation’s Hospitals” from the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center.
More than a dozen Virginia hospitals in 2019 were on the “America’s Best Hospitals for 2019” annual list compiled by Healthgrades. Two hospitals were on the “America’s 50 Best Hospitals” (top 1% of hospitals) and “America’s 100 Best Hospitals” (top 2% of hospitals), according to the news release.