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Iowa Leads Nation In Children's Health Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

A "scorecard" issued today by the Commonwealth Fund shows that Iowa ranks first in the United States in health care for children.

The top five ranked states in best children's health care are Iowa, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The authors of the report say millions more American children would be covered by health insurance, have better access to health care services, and avoid developmental delays if all states performed as well as the leading states.

"All Iowans can be proud of this remarkable accomplishment," said Jean Robillard, M.D., University of Iowa vice president for medical affairs. "This achievement is the result of the commitment, dedication and collaboration of many partners across the state, and we are proud of the contribution of the University of Iowa and our partners across the state to this outstanding ranking."

Robillard pointed to factors such as the HAWK-I health insurance program that provides care for children of lower-income families; the Iowa Statewide Perinatal Care Program; and the Iowa Neonatal Metabolic Screening Program, a collaborative effort between the Iowa Department of Public Health, the University Hygienic Laboratory and the UI Department of Pediatrics, as a few of the key elements that helped lead to the first-place score.

The report, "U.S. Variations In Child Health System Performance: A State Scorecard," ranked states on 13 indicators for children grouped in categories that include access, quality, costs, equity and healthy outcomes. The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation supporting independent research on health policy reform and a high-performance health system.

The scorecard is the first report to assess how the health systems are performing for children across these five dimensions on a state-by-state basis.

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The reviewers found that health insurance for families and access to health care are critically important. States with the highest rankings on access to care -- meaning that they have nearly all of their children insured -- were almost uniformly among the best scorers on quality of care and equity measures.

The states at the bottom of the overall ranking lagged well behind on the access to care measure and struggled with other measures. Six of the lowest ranked states for access to care (Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas) also stood at the bottom of the quality measures.

Children in those low-ranking states are less likely to receive recommended health care, including vaccines, dental care, and regular check-ups. Children in those states also face a greater risk for developmental delays and infant mortality.

"These results show that Iowa is on the right track," Robillard said. "We are already working to improve our care for children through efforts such as building a new facility that will be the home of University Children's Hospital. Continuing our collaboration with our partners across our campus and around the state will help lead the way to a brighter future for our most precious resource, the children of Iowa."

The Commonwealth Fund report, "U.S. Variations In Child Health System Performance: A State Scorecard," is available online at www.commonwealthfund.org.

University of Iowa Children's Hospital serves children and their families at its main campus in Iowa City and satellite clinics in communities throughout the region. A 190-bed "hospital within a hospital," UI Children's Hospital benefits from the sophisticated services and comprehensive resources of UI Hospitals and Clinics. Child magazine ranks UI Children's Hospital among the top 20 children's hospitals in the nation.