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Preventable Deaths Are Increasing in US States


Preventable deaths are on the rise in every U.S. state, according to a newly released report. 

Released by the Commonwealth Fund, their 2023 Scorecard on State Health System Performance analyzed the most recent available federal health data from 2021. The researchers from the group focused on analyzing the performances of health leaders when it came to both mental and physical health. 

For the first time in the report’s history, the Commonwealth Fund also focused on tracking reproductive and women’s health, analyzing trends in prenatal and postpartum care, cancer and maternal health. 

Overall, the report found that the premature death rate increased in each state, particularly among the Black American community and the Native American community. 

Referring to deaths before the age of 75 as premature deaths, while the Commonwealth Fund identified an increase in each state, states such as Louisiana and Arizona recorded the highest increase in preventable premature deaths. Over the course of two years, the rate increased by 45% in Arizona and 35% in Louisiana from 2019 to 2021. 

According to the research group, the COVID-19 pandemic was a major contributor to this increase in premature deaths across the U.S. With the onset of the pandemic, the Commonwealth Fund found that rates amongst chronic but treatable diseases as well as terminal illnesses increased because of a lack of access to proper treatment. 

In general, Black Americans, as well as Native Americans, were amongst those most affected by COVID-19. According to the report, Hispanic Americans were amongst the demographics that had the biggest decline in expected life span. 

“This scorecard provides a detailed view of how we’ve emerged from the pandemic with new, clear, and present dangers in health and healthcare,” said the Commonwealth Fund President, Joseph Betancourt, M.D., per a statement. “We’ve gone backward on life expectancy and avoidable deaths, and women’s health, mental health, and substance use disorder ring loudly as critical issues that require urgent attention.”

Maternal mortality also increased during the pandemic, particularly amongst Black and Native American women. 

The increasing maternal mortality rate amongst Black women, in particular, has been well documented in recent years. 

According to recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to pass away during pregnancy than white women; per their report, in 2021, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was found to be approximately 70 deaths per each 100,000 compared to the 27 deaths per 100,000 births for white women. 

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