A new report ranks Iowa first in the nation in health care for children. The Commonwealth Fund issued its State Scorecard on Child Health System Performance based on 20 key indicators. Those include access and affordability, prevention and treatment, the potential to lead healthy lives, and health system equity.
Dr. Thomas Scholz, interim physician-in-chief at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City, says the number-one ranking is a true honor.
“The recognition is really a wonderful complement to all aspects of our delivery of child care throughout the state,” Dr. Scholz says. “From legislative movements to the grassroots parents approach to helping organize kids’ care, it is just another complement to show how great a state Iowa is.”
Iowa and Massachusetts are tied for first place on the report in terms of overall children’s health system performance. While Iowa did well on virtually all 20 of the categories, Scholz says excelling in prevention and treatment are the two primary goals.
“That really is the basis for a healthy child,” Scholz says. “If you can prevent illness, that is the number-one thing you want to do, but then in those unfortunate times when childhood illness does occur, that you can be there and provide effective treatment is a reflection of the health care system that we’ve been able to establish throughout the state of Iowa.”
Scholz says we should always strive to improve, even in categories where the state ranked high.
“That comes through both the delivery of care as well as the investigation of ways to better treat the kids,” Scholz says. “Looking at better ways we can provide vaccine coverage, better ways we can treat childhood cancer or heart problems in kids better, investing in the infrastructure and research areas that allow for us to really continue to push that envelope.”
He says early screening for childhood diseases, preventive services and health care access for kids from lower-income families are just a few examples of how Iowa leads the nation.
Scholz, a professor and interim head of the U-of-I Department of Pediatrics, says the Commonwealth Fund report cites Iowa’s policies and public-private partnerships as models for other states to follow.