Identifying Policy Levers And Opportunities for Action Across States To Achieve Health Equity

In Health Affairs, Julia Berenson, Yan Li, Julia Lynch, and José A. Pagán assess state progress on steps to advance health equity. Using publicly available data sources, the authors develop a scorecard for all fifty states and the District of Columbia that measure the use of five evidence-based policies to address health equity domains. The scorecard includes 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, homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing programs. The group finds that states varied significantly in their implementation of the selected policies and concludes that a variety of approaches to encourage policy changes at the state level will be needed to create healthier, more equitable communities. They describe feasible state-level approaches, such as incremental minimum wage increases and rewards for low-income housing developers, on the five selected policies that can promote health equity.