Massachusetts ranks second in the country on a health care scorecard out today from The Commonwealth Fund. The ranking is based on 42 measures, including: access to care; preventive visits; quality of treatment; race and ethnic disparities; and lifestyle issues, such as smoking.
Massachusetts is at or near the top on many measures, but the state received low scores for avoidable hospital use and costs in 2012.
Commonwealth Fund President Dr. David Blumenthal says an abundant supply of hospital beds may be driving demand. And the "very high prevalence of insurance in Massachusetts makes hospital use easier for people who physicians believe need hospitalization. So cost is less of a barrier than would be true in many other states," Blumenthal said.
Cathy Shoen — senior vice president for policy, research and evaluation at The Commonwealth Fund — says there are signs that the move towards Accountable Care Organizations in Massachusetts is reducing the number of avoidable hospital stays.
The report highlights wide gaps between states. Rates of children hospitalized for asthma and of potentially preventable deaths before age 75, for example, were twice as high in some states as others.
Between 2007 and 2012, states showed little progress in improving health care scored by The Commonwealth Fund. "The overall pace of change was slow," Shoen said, "and less than we should expect given how much we pay for health care."
Will the Affordable Care Act help all states boost their health scores or will it increase the gap between those at the top before the law was implemented and those at the bottom?