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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

FL sees drop in national health rankings among states

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Friday, December 22, 2023   

Florida has dropped to the 31st position among states in national health rankings. It's a decline from last year's 27th spot.

Local public health experts say more resources could help them address some of the gaps.

The rankings are from an annual United Health Foundation report, which indicates strengths for Florida's low prevalence of cigarette smoking and drinking.

But the Sunshine State ranks 44th in the nation for public health funding and 43rd in people avoiding medical care due to cost. Dr. Frederick Anderson is a family physician in Miami.

"Being sick or not well is very expensive - especially if you're low-income and uninsured, you can imagine having to go to an emergency room for care," said Anderson. "There's a reason why people are smart and they try to avoid going to the emergency room if they are sick, because they can get hit with thousands of dollars of medical bills."

According to the report, about 13% of Floridians avoid medical care because of the expense, exceeding the national rate of 10%.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' health budget proposal, revealed earlier this month, includes an increase in funding for children's health care - but no overall Medicaid expansion for lower-income residents.

And avoiding needed medical care comes at a risk.

On a national scale, UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual's Chief Medical Officer Rhonda Randall said they're seeing concerning trends for chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

"This is something that we have been concerned about for quite some time," said Randall. "And when we looked at the data in this year's report, it's really unfortunate to see that the number of adults living with chronic conditions in the United States is the highest we've seen it."

Florida ranks 26th in the nation for the percentage of adults with multiple chronic conditions. Randall noted that this trend comes amid a decline in licensed primary caregivers nationwide.

Florida's uninsured rate is high, at 11% - compared to the national average of 8% - contributing to its 46th place ranking in this category.

Alison Yager, executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project, said she believes that's because Florida is one of the ten states that has opted out of expanding Medicaid.

"By continuing to play politics with the Medicaid program," said Yager, "our state politicians have really done a disservice to our residents by closing off access to coverage for far too many Floridians."

With the exception of expanding Medicaid, DeSantis highlighted more than $46 billion in healthcare funding in next year's budget - including money for cancer research, Alzheimer's programs, child welfare, waivers for Floridians with disabilities and initiatives for the elderly.

However, the report shows mental healthcare access remains a challenge, with the state ranking 43rd.



Disclosure: UnitedHealthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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