Does “health care” equal “health” in Massachusetts? Not yet

Healthy People Healthy Economy First Annual Report Card

In 2007, and again in 2009, the Boston Foundation and NEHI published major reports that alerted our community to the growing crisis of preventable chronic disease among our state’s residents—which is driving up health care costs to the point where they are crowding out investments in virtually all other areas of community life. In 2010, the two organizations came together again to launch a powerful coalition, called Healthy People/Healthy Economy, with the goal of shifting our state’s focus from “health care” to “health,” and making Massachusetts the national leader in health and wellness.  This annual Report Card will track the policies, programs and practices designed to improve the health of our state’s residents.

Here’s the report’s conclusion:

Massachusetts leads the nation in access to health care, medical innovation and educational attainment—milestones that are at the core of our state’s economic competitiveness. However, as we have seen, the recent doubling of adult obesity and the increasing percentage of children who are overweight or obese in the Commonwealth are resulting in a rising tide of preventable chronic disease. That, in turn, is increasing the likelihood of unsustainable cost burdens on families, businesses and the Commonwealth. The Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition seeks to reverse these trends and the threat they pose to residents’ health and the Commonwealth’s fiscal health andcompetitiveness. Its ultimate goal is to address the crisis in preventable chronic disease among Massachusetts residents while improving lives and curtailing health care costs.

The Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition’s policy agenda is designed to focus attention on transformative best practices and policies, to inspire action at every level, and to foster collaboration across sectors, institutions, cities and towns.

Success will benefit all residents of the Commonwealth, and particularly those now lacking access to physical activities and fresh nutritious foods. Reducing preventable chronic disease rates in all of our communities will reduce future spending on medical services and free up public and private resources to invest in the social determinants of health such as education, recreation and community safety. That, in turn, will help to increase health equity, boosteconomic dynamism and make Massachusetts the national leader in health and wellness.

This annual Report Card tracks the progress of the Commonwealth’s adoption and implementation of proven policies and best practices. In the future, the Report Card will connect our progress on policies with health outcomes and costs.

The Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition addresses one of the Commonwealth’s greatest challenges—the rebalancing of our investment in health care services with our investment in the basic determinants of health—in order to create the kind of future we all need if we are to achieve the goal of “healthy people in a healthy economy.”

Please join us.

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