Rhode Island ranked seventh overall and fourth in New England in a recent report detailing how well the nation's healthcare systems serve low income individuals.
According to The Commonwealth Fund's Scorecard on State Health System Performance for Low-Income Populations, 2013 Rhode Island scored very well in three out of four of the report's core areas.
"The system is working here in Rhode Island," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "This would not be possible if it weren't for the strong commitment of our health care professionals and institutions, and the dogged determination of our community health centers to care for the undeserved."
Based on data from a number of sources, the report assessed a total of 30 indicators of access, prevention and quality, potentially avoidable hospital use, and health outcomes. In these areas Rhode Island ranked eighth for the overall lifetime health, fifth for prevention and treatment, 11th in access and affordability, and 29th in potentially avoidable hospital use for those with low incomes.
"There is still room for improvement but the Rhode Island Department of Health is committed to making sure we protect the health and safety of all Rhode Island communities," Dr. Fine said. "Avoidable hospital use can be improved by our continued vigilance to reduce risks to health from unsafe homes, communities, or behaviors. This will result in a healthier overall population and reduce health care costs over time."
Steven M. Costantino, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said, "The Commonwealth Fund's Scorecard is yet another affirmation that ambitious reforms in Rhode Island's Medicaid program, aimed at improving the quality of health, and life overall, for our low income individuals and families, the elderly and the disabled, are having their desired effect. And now, with the expansion of Medicaid to cover more of our residents, and with other initiatives such as the re-balancing of long-term services and supports that increase the use of home and community-based services for seniors and disabled adults, we are able to increase the scope and effectiveness of services that improve the health and independence of thousands of our residents."
The highest ranking states include Hawaii (1st), Wisconsin (2nd), Vermont (3rd), Minnesota (4th), Massachusetts (5th), and Connecticut (6th). According to the report, if Rhode Island improved to the level of the best performing state, there would be 46,844 more insured adults, 3,251 additional older adults would receive preventive care, and there would be 393 fewer hospitalizations for potentially preventable conditions.
The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation working towards a high-performance healthcare system, released the report to identify opportunities for states to improve how their health systems serve their low-income populations and to provide benchmarks of achievement tied to the top-performing states.