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Women's Health Care Unsatisfactory Nationwide, National Women's Law Center Report Card Says

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:26pm
Women's health care in the U.S. is unsatisfactory overall, according to a report card on the state of women's health released Wednesday by the National Women's Law Center and the Oregon Health and Science University , CQ HealthBeat reports.



The report card, titled "Making the Grade on Women's Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card," measured women's health in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., by using 27 health benchmarks designated by HHS ' Healthy People 2010 campaign. According to the report, the U.S. overall fails to meet 12 of the 27 benchmarks, up from nine in 2004 (Bartolf, CQ HealthBeat , 10/17). Only three of the 27 benchmarks -- women receiving regular dental care, women ages 40 and older receiving mammograms and women ages 50 and older receiving colorectal cancer screening -- were met, Michelle Berlin, an associate professor at OHSU, said.



None of the states received a "satisfactory" grade in women's health. Three states -- Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont -- received a grade of "satisfactory minus," a decrease from 2004, when eight states were considered "satisfactory minus." Eleven states and the district received failing grades in women's health status, compared with six states in 2004. The 11 states are: Alabama; Arkansas; Indiana; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi, which ranked last; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; and West Virginia. The remaining states received "unsatisfactory" grades, Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, Reuters , 10/17).

Benchmark Disparities

The report found that several benchmarks -- including the percentage of women receiving prenatal care, infant mortality and the percentage of uninsured women -- varied significantly by race. American Indians and Alaska Native women were twice as likely as white women to be uninsured, the report found. Among white women, 16.9% were uninsured, compared with 22.7% of black women and 37.8% of Hispanic women, according to the report. The percentage of uninsured women increased by 1.7% since 2004, according to the report ( CQ HealthBeat , 10/17). Minnesota had the lowest percentage of uninsured with 9.1%, and Texas had the highest percentage at 28.1%, the report said ( Reuters , 10/17).



The report found 85.7% of white women received prenatal care, compared with 70.8% of American Indians, 75.9% of blacks and 77.5% of Hispanics. According to the report, the percentage of women nationwide who received prenatal care increased by 5% since 2004 but is still unsatisfactory. The report found that white women have an infant mortality rate of 5.7 deaths for every 1,000 live births, compared with 13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births for blacks and 5.6 per 1,000 live births for Hispanics. The overall infant mortality rate has remained the same since 2004.



The percentage of obese women increased in all states and the district ( CQ HealthBeat , 10/17). Hawaii had the lowest percentage of obese women at 16.7%, and Mississippi had the highest percentage at 31.5%. The percentage of women ages 40 and older who received mammograms improved in all states ( Reuters , 10/17).



The number of states with parental notification policies for minors seeking abortion decreased, as did the number of states that have mandatory waiting periods for abortions, the report found. The number of states that provide public funding for abortion for low-income women has remained constant since 2001, according to the report.

Comments

"The outlook for women's health is nowhere near approaching the nation's goals for 2010" set by the Healthy People campaign, Berlin said, adding, "Failing to meet these goals undermines not only the health and well-being of women, but the well-being of our country as well." Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rights for NWLC, said, "It's nothing to cheer when only a handful of states are meeting at least half of the policy goals" ( CQ HealthBeat , 10/17).



Waxman called on states to implement policies to improve women's health ( Reuters , 10/17). "It is evident that our health system needs mending," Waxman said, adding, "Lawmakers must take a comprehensive, long-term approach to meeting women's health needs" ( CQ HealthBeat , 10/17).



Online The report is available online .

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org . You can view the Kaiser Daily Report s online, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyrepo rts/ . The Kaiser Daily Report s are published for kaisernetwork.org , a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 200 7 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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