Wednesday, the second economic and power rankings were released by the Partner Up! for Public Health campaign, funded by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Using a program devised by the University of Wisconsin that measures a number factors related to health care, all 159 Georgia counties are ranked. The University of Wisconsin program measures most of the counties throughout the country, giving true apples-to-apples comparisons.
In Georgia, health data is combined with the job tax credit rankings from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. It’s not a stretch to see that counties with poor health outcomes -- premature deaths, low birth weight babies, more missed workdays due to poor heath or mental issues -- also score higher on the job tax credit ranking that uses average per capita income, unemployment and poverty rates to guide DCA in awarding its tax credits.
Oconee County in northeast Georgia, is ranked No. 1, but there are several Middle Georgia counties that fared well. Houston County had a Partner Up! ranking of 17.5 (lower numbers are better) while Bibb had 97 and Peach County had 103.
Houston was ranked 23 in the Wisconsin Health Outcomes compared to 139 for Bibb. Find your county’s ranking at www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/georgia/2013/rankings/outcomes/overall/by-rank
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According to Charles Hayslett, CEO of the Hayslett Group that manages the Partner Up! campaign, the state doesn’t have a coordinated strategy to address the issues. He called some of the rural sections of the state “disaster areas both economically and in terms of health status.”
Looking at Bibb’s health outcome ranking -- the highest in Middle Georgia, rural Georgia starts right here and we better come up with a coordinated strategy while we still can.