From Wire Reports
President-elect Bill Clinton's Arkansas is a public health pit
and Hawaii a public health paradise, according to a
state-by-state analysis of health care programs by the American
Public Health Association.
Oklahomans, it said, smoke too much, and have health care
habits among the worst in the nation.
The organization of public health experts issued a "report
card" Monday ranking each state and the District of Columbia on a
variety of medical issues. Arkansas was the only state to rank in
the bottom quarter in all five major categories: Medical care
access, healthy environment, healthy neighborhoods, healthy
behaviors and community health service.
Hawaii, which has required that all businesses provide health
insurance since 1974, came out at the top, ranking in the first
or second quarter in all categories.
"We want to draw attention to the underlying determinants of
health in this country," said Dr. Joyce Lashof, president of the
American Public Health Association and former dean of the
University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health.
Instead of more traditional measures of public health such as
disease statistics, life expectancies and rates of infant
mortality, the report card rates states on qualities such as
availability of medical care, childhood poverty and spending on
sewer projects. Public health researchers say these "broad
determinants" correlate closely with the health of a given
"Poverty is the No. 1 factor that influences health," Lashof
Dragging down the national averages were poor health
conditions in Oklahoma, according to the report, which claimed 23
percent of the Sooner population is uninsured, doctors are
scarce, and the amount of government money spent on public health
care is nearly the lowest in the nation.
It stated only two states have fewer doctors per capita than
Oklahoma, which also ranks 50th for government spending on
community health programs, about $39 per person. The report found
Oklahoma spends more than twice that on sanitation and sewage
disposal, about $78.
Health habits in Oklahoma are a little worse than average, it
said: nearly 30 percent of people smoke, 23 percent are obese,
and 10 percent drink to excess, while more than 25 percent don't
wear seat belts.
The report placed Oklahoma's environment near the national
average because of a fewer-than-average number of work-related
injury cases, a shortage of fluoridated water and moderate
pollution levels. …