This isn’t really news because anyone with even a passing knowledge of the United States or who pays attention to the health and welfare of its people knows that certain states are better than others.
Better? Well, yes. Better -- if you think living longer and having better access to good affordable health care is a good thing. The nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, as reported in detail by USA Today, put a lot of existing statistical material together to come up with a ranking of states based on a range of factors indicating the overall well-being of its population.
States were rated on five criteria: access (percentage of population insured), quality (how often people received recommended care), avoidable costs (re-admissions to hospitals), equity (state performance by income and race/ethnicity) and healthy lives (deaths before age 75 from certain preventable conditions.)
When all was said and done, you could predict that the top 10 states were Hawaii, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and South Dakota and the bottom 10 were Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Kentucky, Nevada, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Readers of this blog know where I am going. But first, let me acknowledge that these are associations and not necessarily cause and effect. The healthier states tend to be in the North, the least healthy in the South. There could racial, ethnic or demographic elements in the figures that are beyond control of residents in certain states. Some states may have sicker people than others to begin with (Florida, for example, although its population may be getting younger.)
But there is also a strong tradition of social, economic, cultural and political impoverishment in those bottom 10 states.
Only South Dakota and Iowa, among the top 10, voted for President Bush in 2004, and Iowa only by 50.4 percent and Iowa voted against him in 2000.
Every single one of the 10 worst states voted for Bush twice.
Now, that’s sick.