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Pa. Health Systems Score Well in National Scorecard

June 26, 2023

Pennsylvania’s health care system is among the best in the nation, especially for preventable hospital and emergency room admissions, and for reducing 30-day mortality rates.

A new scorecard from the Commonwealth Fund ranked Pennsylvania ninth in the nation for state health system performance. The scorecard considers 58 measures for access, quality, costs, health disparities, reproductive care and women’s health, and health outcomes.

The data, which primarily focuses on 2021, illustrates the ways the pandemic affected health care and the wide variation in outcomes across states.

“Comparing states on how well their health care systems support people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and income levels is critical to our understanding of what is and isn’t working in American health care,” Sara R. Collins, study coauthor, said in a statement last week.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Top metrics:  Pennsylvania scored at or near the top for preventable hospitalizations between ages 18 and 64 (1); potentially avoidable emergency department visits (3); and hospital 30-day mortality rates (5).
    • The commonwealth’s scores for hospitalizations, 30-day mortality, and diabetic adults without an annual hemoglobin A1C tests improved the most.
  • Maternal health:  Pennsylvania ranked sixth in the nation for fewest maternal deaths while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, per 100,000 live births.
  • Top and bottom:  Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont were the top five for overall performance.
    • The lowest ranked states were Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Mississippi. 
  • Overdose deaths:  Pennsylvania ranked 42 for drug overdose deaths, with 43 per 100,000 people.
  • Quotable:  “One of the most important things policymakers can do is to shore up the health insurance system and maintain and build on coverage gains states have achieved over the past decade,” Collins said.

The report authors note that reducing deaths from preventable causes, making coverage more affordable, and strengthening reproductive and women’s health care can help improve health system performance. It’s also worth watching how the end of pandemic-era measures that helped more Americans gain health coverage affect future data.

“Still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, states are trying to reverse a stunning rise in preventable deaths from multiple causes,” the report notes.

The report, and a summary of its findings, is available online.