Another bit of dismal news today. In the second state by state ranking of health status and access by the respected Commonwealth Fund, North Carolina has dropped 11 places into the last tier of states since 2007. The reason seems to be twofold. While NC was twiddling its thumbs with efforts to expand coverage for children and adults, many states moved forward with substantial efforts to guarantee coverage to kids, provide new health plans for lower-income adults, and establish relief programs for small businesses. It isn’t that NC has really suffered overall much worse than many other states – it’s we haven’t had the gumption to do much about it. I guess we were too busy doing all those state incentives for companies like Dell Computer.
In addition, it looks like on health indicators like the ability to see a primary care doctor, infant mortality, routine checkups, and being unable to get care because of the cost, we’ve really dropped as well.
What’s most frustrating for me as a health advocate is that we’ve been pushing commonsense programs that we know work and that are cost effective for the last few years to know avail. Things like guaranteeing all children have affordable coverage, expanding premium-based basic health coverage to adults, and instituting comparative effectiveness programs to save money by paying only for treatments we know actually work. Speaker of the House Joe Hackney told me last year at a health forum in response to my question on this issue that “we both know” the state can’t solve the health crisis, and that national reform is our only hope.
Well, as this data shows, other states didn’t wait for Washington and North Carolina’s people have suffered for our inaction.