Nation gets unsatisfactory grade in women's health

The United States as a whole and individual states are falling short of meeting national health goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 agenda. According to the 2004 "Making the Grade on Women's Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card," the nation received an "unsatisfactory" grade and no state received a "satisfactory" grade.

Released by the National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health & Science University in May, the report found that the nation as a whole only met two out of 27 benchmark indicators. The two goals achieved were ensuring that women 40 and older get mammograms regularly and promoting annual dental visits.

As further indication that the health needs of women are not being met, the top grade among individual states was "satisfactory minus"; just eight states earned that grade—Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah. Six states—Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi—received failing grades.

Examining 67 policy indicators, which are based on state legislation and programs that address certain health problems, all states met just one policy goal—namely, every state has Medicaid coverage for breast and cervical cancer patients. Just three states—New York, California, and Rhode Island—met at least 35 policy goals. The states with the weakest health policies were Idaho, South Dakota, and Mississippi.

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