On April 30, 2014, the Commonwealth Fund released its “Scorecard” on health performance results in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report, titled “Aiming Higher: Results from a Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2014,” evaluates and ranks the states and the District based on indicators of health performance. Overall, the District came in 21st place, improving from its 24st place ranking in 2009, the year the last scorecard was released.
The rankings were based on forty-two (42) individual indicators of health performance that were grouped into four categories: (1) Access & Affordability, (2) Prevention & Treatment, (3) Potentially Avoidable Hospital Use & Cost, and (4) Healthy Lives. Although the District ranked among the top 25% of states in Access & Affordability, it fell behind many states in Avoidable Hospital Use & Cost (in which it was in the bottom fourth of states), and Prevention & Treatment, and Healthy Lives (in which it was in the bottom half of states.)
The rankings underscore an issue that is at the core of Legal Aid’s work—ensuring that low-income District residents have access to quality health care. Although the District has one of the lowest percentages of uninsured residents and one of the most generous medical assistance programs in the country, many District residents continue to face barriers to accessing quality health care. Indeed, Legal Aid and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute just released a comprehensive report on May 22, 2014 detailing many of these barriers, including improper denials and terminations of medical assistance.
The District can continue to improve its health outcomes only if it removes barriers to access. The report we recently issued discusses many steps that the District can take to guarantee that struggling District residents receive the critical safety net benefits including increasing staff at service centers, eliminating unnecessary in-person recertification requirements, and enhancing language accessibility. Legal Aid will continue to work with the District to break down these barriers and make the District a leader in delivering quality, accessible health care.