Identifying Policy Levers And Opportunities For Action Across States To Achieve Health Equity
Author: Julia Berenson, Yan Li, Julia Lynch, José A. Pagán
In the United States, steps to advance health equity often take place at the state and local levels rather than the national level. Using publicly available data sources, we developed a scorecard for all fifty states and the District of Columbia that measures indicators of the use of five evidence-based policies to address domains related to health equity. The indicators are the cigarette excise tax rate, a state’s Medicaid expansion status and the size of its coverage gap, percentage of four-year olds enrolled in state-funded pre-kindergarten, minimum wage level, and the presence of state-funded housing subsidy programs and homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing programs. We found that states varied significantly in their implementation of the selected policies and concluded that a variety of approaches to encourage policy changes at the state level will be needed to create healthier and more equitable communities. We describe promising, feasible state-level approaches for states to “do something, do more, do better” when they take action on the five selected policies that can promote health equity.