School-Based BMI Reporting: A- (up from B in 2012) – Promising new evidence suggests that the state’s school-based BMI program is creating positive results for students and families. Despite this, there has been pushback from legislators based on media reports and parent misunderstanding.
*Primary Care: B+ (up from B) – The new state health care law creates special incentives for developing strong, patient-centered primary care in Massachusetts. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has set the goal for all primary care practices to become patient-centered medical homes by 2015.
*Healthy School Meals: B (up from B-) – The Commonwealth is now fully implementing the most stringent requirements in the country for the sale of ‘competitive’ foods in schools. USDA regulations governing school lunch and breakfast programs were amended by the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Rules and regulations are being finalized, with state implementation ongoing.
Healthy Transportation Systems: B- (up from C) – The Legislature passed revenue measures to address the shortfall in funding for transportation and to improve the performance of state transportation agencies; it has not yet provided any long-term stability in financing. The state continues a promising start to healthy transportation planning.
*Food Deserts: C+ (up from C) – The state’s Grocery Access Task Force has reported a new round of recommendations and legislation has been filed to establish a food financing program to support the development, renovation and expansion of supermarkets, farmers markets, and other retailers selling healthy foods within underserved communities; now action must follow.
*Health Impact Assessments: C+ (up from C) – Agencies and advocates are utilizing health impact assessments to make health goals a priority in policy-making but little formal action is under way to expand their use. More work needs to be done to educate and garner support in the development and business communities.
Health Literacy: C (up from I) – There are many ongoing initiatives to improve health care by addressing barriers posed by poor health literacy. Now the focus should be on successful implementation.
Public Health Funding: D (up from F) – The state created a $60 million Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund—the first of its kind in the nation and a major step forward—but funds have not yet been released. The state continues to underfund the Department of Public Health and key programs..
Sugar Sweetened Beverages: F – Even though Massachusetts remains one of the relatively few states that grant favorable tax status to soft drinks, the Legislature refused once again to remove that preferential treatment in the 2014 budget, despite wide public support to do so. Legislation on the issue is still pending.
The coalition that’s delivering your health grade says your mediocre performance, overall, has big implications for the state’s economy.