November 22, 2016

Kansas falls flat in overall health and well-being
New report reveals tax reform crucial to improving state’s health outcomes

TOPEKA – A healthy Kansas economy starts with healthy Kansans, but without strong investments in the services and programs that ensure citizens can thrive, the state’s overall well-being will decline.

A new report from the Kansas Center of Economic Growth (KCEG) examines the health, economic, and social foundation of the state and the region. The Kansas “Health and Prosperity Index” (HAPI) report analyzes 39 indicators of the social determinants of health across four categories: education, employment, and earnings; social and community context; health infrastructure and risk behaviors; and health outcomes.

Overall, Kansas’ performance is mediocre, receiving average scores in each key area. Compared to the six-state region, Kansas ranks 4th in its overall score.

“The report reveals that Kansans already face significant barriers to health,” said KCEG Executive Director Heidi Holliday. “Without additional investments in our schools, communities, health care, and safety net, we expect a further decline in Kansas’ rankings.”

Critical areas of improvement include:

  • Education, employment, and earnings: In personal income and job growth, Kansas ranks last and second-to-last in the region, respectively. Kansas’ median household income is fifth out of the seven states.
  • Social and community context: 42% of people spend almost one-third of their income on rent and utilities, hampering Kansans’ ability to be financially secure.
  • Health infrastructure and risk behaviors: In areas with a shortage of mental health practitioners, Kansas ranks second worst in the region.
  • Health outcomes: Kansas was one of only two states in the country to see an increase in its obesity rate.

Overall, KCEG’s policy recommendations include a call for comprehensive tax reform, as well as KanCare expansion.

“Until we can resolve the budget crisis, Kansas can’t move confidently into the future,” said Holliday. “The health and well-being of every Kansan depends on a balanced tax structure and stable public investments.”

Read the report here.

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ClayRELEASE: Kansas falls flat in overall health and well-being