Virginia among most improved states in 2019 America’s Health Rankings
Virginia ranks as one of the most improved states in the 30th anniversary edition of the America’s Health Rankings annual report issued by the United Health Foundation.
The Commonwealth rose from 20th among states in the 2018 report to 15th in the 2019 edition of the report that assesses an array of health metrics to determine rankings. The report, recognized as the longest running state-by-state analysis of the nation’s health, cites the Commonwealth as one of three states that “made the largest improvements in the rankings since 2018.”
The rankings gain Virginia achieved in the past year is a testament to the work of many stakeholders who are dedicated to improving public health and well-being. Virginia’s hospitals and health systems have been among the leaders in this effort and are committed to the goal of making the Commonwealth the healthiest state in the nation.
Scoring in the America’s Health Rankings report is based on 35 measures of health across five categories in the rankings model: behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care, and health outcomes. All told, 19 data sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau are consulted to compile the report.
According to the 2019 report, Virginia’s rise in the rankings is driven by improvements in the “health outcomes” (declines in health disparity rates) and “behaviors” (improved physical activity among adults) categories. The Commonwealth also earns plaudits for a low violent crime rate, a low percentage of children in poverty, and high immunization coverage among children.
“It is gratifying to see the hard work of Virginia’s health care community reflected in the 2019 ‘America’s Health Rankings.’ The rankings show that the Commonwealth is making headway on the goal of improving health for all Virginians,” said Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Achieving that goal requires commitment from many stakeholders and partners. Hospitals and health systems have consistently demonstrated a commitment to that effort 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 communities across the Commonwealth. More work remains to be done, but these year-over-year gains are proof that progress is being made.”
The 2019 America’s Health Rankings report arrives roughly one year into Medicaid expansion in Virginia, which has enabled more than 342,000 Virginians to enroll in low-cost, high-quality health care coverage. Virginia’s hospitals and health systems have been leaders in the work to enhance and expand health care access in the Commonwealth and are investing about $300 million annually to cover state costs associated with coverage expansion.
Hospitals are the only health care sector partner in Virginia that have directly invested resources to help fund Medicaid expansion.