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Monday, April 9, 2012

MAPS, REPORTS HIGHLIGHT TEXAS HEALTH STATS, PHYSICIAN SHORTAGES, COUNTY BY COUNTY

For those who like to dig through data, a treasure-trove of county-level (and lower) health statistics has been published recently on the Internet. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” looks at health indicators in every county in the country. Collin County – north of Dallas – is the healthiest county in the state, and Marion County in Northeast Texas is the least healthy. Those numbers are based on mortality and morbidity rates. But when you look at health factors like smoking, diabetic screening, air pollution, and poverty, Kendall County in the Hill Country takes the top spot and Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley is in the basement. Meanwhile, geomapping company ESRI has produced an interactive map showing U.S. counties’ needs for all physicians and for primary care physicians. Using 2009 census data, the ESRI map shows the dozens of Texas counties with no physicians and those with a “very high need” or a “high need”for more doctors. Finally, the Kaiser Family Foundation issued a new report on the primary care health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) in each state. Our 397 HPSAs, second only to California, serve nearly 5.6 million Texans or nearly one-fourth of the state. Those areas need almost 600 primary care physicians to escape HPSA status. Easing the state’s severe physician workforce shortage is a key component of TMA’s Healthy Vision 2020, which will guide our work for you in Austin and Washington over the next several sessions.

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