By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
When it comes to health, Wisconsin doesn’t get the best grade in the book. In 2016, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute gave the state a “D” for overall health disparities on the state’s report card. The report noted that health disparities in the state have gotten worse beginning in 2010.
In response to the lack of improvement, Governor Tony Evers established the Governor’s Health Equity Council. Evers did so through an executive order, making it his 17th executive order since taking office.
The order came shortly after Evers toured the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Midtown Clinic located in Milwaukee.
According to the press release, the Governor’s Health Equity Council will develop a plan that will aim to “reduce and eliminate health disparities throughout the state of Wisconsin by 2030.”
As part of the council’s plan, it plans to asses what factors contribute to the state’s score. This will include looked at “access to quality healthcare, economic and social factors, racial disparities and the physical environment,” according to the official executive order.
Additionally, the order stated that the council will “address health disparities in populations based on race, economic status, education level, history of incarceration and geographic location.”
As part of this effort to improve Wisconsin’s health status, Evers plans to accept more federal funds in order to expand Medicaid.
“Accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid is central to our efforts to improve the health and well-being of all Wisconsinites,” Evers said. “But so too is addressing the racial, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities that contribute to poor health outcomes.”
According to the 2016 Health of Wisconsin Report Card, Wisconsin received a “D” for health disparity in every age category except in Working-age adults (25-64) where it received a “C.” However, Wisconsin received a “D” overall.
The report card, which is conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute grades health in two ways: by the length of life and by the quality of life. It is categorized into four groups based on age: infants (less than a year old), children and young adults (1-24), working-age adults (25-64) and older adults (65 and older).
When compared to other states, the report card noted that Wisconsin received a “B-.” The institute added that this “average grade” is because it compares the entirety of the state to other 49 and isn’t entirely reflective of what’s happening in Wisconsin.
For example, Wisconsin received a health grade of “B” and a health disparity grade of “D” when it comes to the death rate for children and young adults. It received an “F” in the African-American and American-Indian categories. Additionally, it received a “D” for the death rate among males and an “A” for the death rate among females in children and young adults.
This report card may be several years old, but its findings can still be applied to today. Through his newly established council, Evers hopes that health of the state improves and that the health disparities decrease.