According to the Commonwealth Fund's 2019 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, West Virginia was among the top five states in improvement. 

The scorecard, a state-by-state report measuring access to care, quality of care, health outcomes and health disparities across the United States, showed West Virginia had 19 indicator improvements.

The state's most improved indicators were fewer colorectal cancer deaths; home health patients with improved mobility; and fewer uninsured adults. 

West Virginia's overall top ranked indicators include home health patients with improved mobility; few uninsured children; and adults with all recommended vaccines. 

However, the Mountain State still ranked poorly compared to other states, landing at No. 45 on the scorecard. Among its poorest indicators were adults with fair or poor health; adults who had lost six or more teeth; and drug poisoning deaths. 

Indicators that had worsened the most were hospital 30-day mortality; preventable hospitalizations for ages 18 to 64; and drug poisoning deaths. 

"Deaths from suicide, alcohol, and drugs are a national crisis, but affect states in different ways," said David Radley, Ph.D., M.P.H., Senior Scientist with Tracking Health System Performance for The Commonwealth Fund. 

Radley highlighted West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where overdose death rates were more than double the national rate in 2017. 

"West Virginia's drug overdose deaths are up 450 percent from 2005 to 2017," Radley noted. 

Nationally, there has been a 115 percent increase in drug overdose deaths and a 28 percent increase in suicide from 2005 to 2017. 

The report said West Virginia improved in terms of health care access and affordability, as well as disparity. However, West Virginia's score worsened in avoidable hospital use and cost. 

West Virginia's median household income is $48,335, according to the report, which is $17,392 below the national average. The report also said 39 percent of West Virginians are below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. 

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Other national findings from the report showed states’ progress in expanding health care coverage and access since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted has stalled, and 16 states actually experienced small increases in their adult uninsured rate between 2016 and 2017. 

Health care costs are the primary driving force behind rising premiums, the report said, which are an increasing financial burden to working families in all states.

Also, per-enrollee spending growth in employer plans grew faster and was more variable across states than per beneficiary spending in Medicare. 

For more information or to access the full report, visit commonwealthfund.org

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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