Kansas Health Institute

www.woodsoncounty.net

A cluster of counties in southeast Kansas are among the least healthy in the state, according to new rankings released Wednesday.

Four of the five state’s unhealthiest counties — Woodson, Cherokee, Greenwood and Labette — are in southeast Kansas. Several other counties in the region rank among the bottom 10.

But the director of an initiative launched in 2011 to address the underlying causes of the region’s health and economic problems said progress is being made.

When it comes to standard measures of health, Kansas is a laggard. Whether we’re talking about obesity rates, incidence of diabetes, acute or chronic diseases, or childhood mortality, the Sunflower State typically ranks in the bottom half of state health rankings – and in recent years it’s been sinking even lower.

That’s bad enough. But there are vast disparities within the state itself. Averages only give a rough-and-ready sense of the state’s overall health picture; dig deeper – down to the county level – and you’ll find that some counties actually perform quite well while others perform poorly.

Kansas policymakers have decided not to expand the state's Medicaid program or to create a Kansas-specific exchange for consumers to buy individual health insurance policies. But the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring some changes to the Medicaid program, whether the state's political leaders want to cooperate, or not.

Courtesy Kansas Health Institute

According to the latest Kansas County Health Rankings, Johnson and Riley counties have the healthiest residents in Kansas again this year.  Wyandotte County and a cluster of counties in southeast Kansas remain among the least healthy.

Courtesy of Scott Brunner and Ryan Barker.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the federal health law, we’ll be hearing a lot more about one of its key aspects: Medicaid.