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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.

Report: Signs look good for a healthy new year in WA

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Tuesday, December 26, 2023   

Washingtonians' health is looking good compared to other states, according to the latest standings in the 2023 America's Health Rankings report.

The state ranks seventh in the annual report, with especially high marks in the social and economic factors and behavior categories.

Dr. Joshua Liao is a physician at the University of Washington Medical Center. He said this report is ambitious in terms of its scope, and Washington still has many areas where it can improve.

"That overall ranking of number seven is encouraging," said Liao, "and yet we have to take that in view of all those subcomponents and look at how did we get to number seven? I think that's very important as well."

Liao pointed to a few categories in particular where the state is struggling - including housing, transportation risks and climate risks.

The report also notes that drug deaths increased 93% in the state between 2016 and 2021.

On a national scale, the Chief Medical Officer for UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual - Dr. Rhonda Randall - said there are concerning trends for chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Eight chronic conditions reached their highest levels since America's Health Rankings began tracking them.

But Randall noted that states like Washington perform well in areas that help counteract these conditions.

"The states that have the highest rankings in behaviors," said Randall, "those are things like, are we getting physical activity? are we smoking? things like obesity, for example - have a tendency to do better on the chronic conditions."

Randall said there are other positives in the report nationally, such as the 7% increase both in mental health and dental professionals, and decreases in occupational fatalities and the number of people who are uninsured.



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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