Though it leads southeastern states, Virginia comes in at 29th in national health ranking

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A new national state health ranking places Virginia 29th in the country, though that was good enough to finish ahead of every other state in the southeast.

Using 47 measures, including those related to quality and access to health care as well as income-based disparities, the newly-released Commonwealth Fund’s 2019 Scorecard on State Health System Performance ranks states in categories like prevention, treatment, avoidable use and cost.

In the 2018 scorecard, Virginia came in a notch higher at 28th.

The scorecard, which mostly uses data from 2017, though some measures go back farther, shows that Virginia has made good strides in reducing some hospital-acquired infections and in lowering the number of alcohol-related deaths. In 2017, the rate of alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people in Virginia was 7.1 percent compared to the national average of 9.6 percent.

But Virginia struggled in some areas, like in the number of children who did not receive needed mental health care. In 2017, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s report, 35 percent of Virginia’s children did not receive needed mental health care, compared to the U.S. average of 22 percent.

Also, there were 21.8 breast cancer deaths in Virginia per 100,000 women in 2017, compared to 19.9 percent nationwide.

Other data points are slightly outdated. Virginia ranked 40th in the scorecard based on 2017 data for adults ages 19-64 who are uninsured, but that was before the state expanded its Medicaid program. Expansion states have typically lower uninsured rates compared to those that have not expanded their programs.

This year the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit private foundation that supports independent research on health policy reform, began ranking states within their regions to allow better comparisons with their neighbors, according to David Radley, senior scientist with the organization. Virginia was ranked first in the southeastern region.