Gov. John Kasich has done a poor job for Ohioans on health policy. His poor performance, as measured by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio [HPIO], ranks Ohio 46th nationally in the institutes’s latest “Health Value Dashboard” [HVD]. The HVD ranks states on a combination of public health and health spending metrics.

The sad statistic from Camp Kasich means Buckeyes are living less healthy lives and spending more on health care than people in most other states. The vice president of prevention and public health policy at HPIO, Amy Bush Stevens, said a big problem area is prevention. Under leadership from the governor and a conservative Republican legislature, Ohio performs poorly enough on public health and prevention overall that it ranks 50th out of 51 states and the District of Columbia. A high smoking rate, the analysis showed, is it’s biggest problem.

Ohio Ranks Low Again

If this news makes you feel ill, then the budget cuts being pushed by House Republicans in their replacement bill for President Obama’s historic 2010 Affordable Care Act [ACA] will make your sick. If the bill working its way through congress becomes law, it would eliminate nearly $115 million to Ohio public health programs over the next five years.

Reports say the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created during passage of ACA to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would in turn hurt state and local public health departments previously funded from these federal dollars, which account for about 12 percent of the CDC’s budget. Ohio received $22.9 million from the CDC in fiscal year 2016.

Columbus Public Health Department spokesman Jose Rodriguez said about 34 percent of the department’s funding comes from these federal dollars, the Dayton Daily News reported. Rodriguez notes that Ohio “already lags behind other states in funding.”

Republicans are fond of saying the fund is a “slush fund,” but an examination of spending shows it $72 million in grants for diabetes prevention; $14.7 million for Alzheimer’s Disease, Prevention Education and Outreach; $324 million to increase access to immunization and $17 million for lead poisoning prevention.

A second group, Trust for America’s Health, ranks Ohio 42nd in state investment in public health in fiscal year 2013 and 2014. Compared to a national per capita spending rate of $31.06, Ohio limps in at a meager $14.59 per capita.

Big Candy

When Gov. Kasich ran for reelection in 2014, he promised to “lift everyone up, no matter their circumstances.” One way of lifting up an entire state in a healthy way, something he’s failed to do so far, would be to treat the scourge of diabetes—and the sugar industry that feeds it—as seriously as his statements on combating opioid use.

But John Kasich seems oblivious to preventative health measures that lead people into diabetes, which in turn imposes giant costs on the nation’s health care delivery system.

Gov. Kasich is unconcerned at the state level, and reports say President Trump may also be impotent at the federal level in fighting back what Big Sugar wants to do. Reports say that “Big Candy,” represented by The National Confectioners Association, is lobbying the White House to rollback government sugar subsidies that candy companies like Hershey, Mars and Jelly Belly argue drive up the costs of making their sweet products.

 

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