RResearchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, unveiled the Congressional Health Dashboard (CDHD), a new online tool that provides critical health data for all 435 congressional districts and the District of Columbia. The dashboard includes 36 key health measures, such as deaths from cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, along with conditions that affect health, such as housing affordability and access to nutritious food. Until now, most of this data was not available at the congressional district level, nor was it collected in one place or easily accessible to the public.
Congressional District Health Dashboard data reveal large geographic, racial, and ethnic disparities in health and well-being among congressional districts across the United States. For example, people living in congressional districts in the 11 states that did not expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act were twice as likely to be uninsured as those in states with expanded Medicaid coverage. In fact, residents of congressional districts in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas are, on average, nearly 3.5 times more likely to be uninsured than those in New England congressional districts. On average, Hispanic residents have the highest uninsured rates in most congressional districts across the country.
“The Congressional District Health Dashboard will help meet the critical need for timely, accurate, and actionable data that can inform evidence-based policymaking,” says Mark N. Gurevich, MD, MPH , chair of the Division of Population Health at NYU Langone Health and chief architect of the initiative. “Now policymakers, advocates and others can venture into their specific congressional districts to identify opportunities and challenges affecting the health and well-being of all the people they serve, regardless of income, race or zip code.”
The Congressional Health Dashboard offers users the ability to do the following:
- examine rigorous, nonpartisan data on health, education, poverty and more by congressional district and compare these findings to state and national averages
- compare rates of selected indicators among different racial and ethnic groups within districts
- see a snapshot of each congressional district, with all 36 measures compared to the national average, along with district-specific population facts such as age, racial and ethnic composition
Dashboard analysis of congressional district data also reveals the following findings:
- Across congressional districts, there was wide variation in several health outcomes, including people reporting mental distress, which ranged from 9 to 21 percent by district.
- The rent burden is lowest in rural areas at 37 percent, and highest in coastal areas (California, the Northeast, and Florida) and urban congressional districts overall at 50 percent.
- In the United States, deaths from cardiovascular disease were lower in suburban areas at 194 deaths per 100,000, compared with urban and rural areas at 215 and 225 deaths per 100,000, respectively.
- Child poverty is lower in suburban areas by about 14 percent and higher in urban and rural areas by 19 percent.
- Broadband access is significantly lower in the rural South, where only 40 to 50 percent of households have high-speed Internet, compared to 80 to 90 percent in urban areas with strong broadband access.
- Racial and ethnic disparities in low birth weight were observed across areas, with particularly large disparities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In more than three-quarters of counties in these states, black newborns are roughly twice as likely to be underweight at birth as white infants (with other racial and ethnic groups falling in between), including all counties in South Carolina and five of Louisiana’s six counties.
“This dashboard could be a game-changer for health policy in the United States. By using local data, members of Congress and their staff can make more informed decisions about policies that affect the health of people, communities and workplaces,” said Giridhar Mallya, MD, MSHP, senior policy officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation . “Our health shouldn’t be defined by our congressional district, but this data clearly shows how far we have to go to address persistent inequities across the country. No matter who they are or where they live, all people in the United States deserve the opportunity to thrive.”
Overseen and regularly updated by a team of population health and policy experts, epidemiologists, and geospatial specialists, the Congressional Health Dashboard website displays measures and drivers of health through interactive maps, tables, and charts. The data is drawn from federal sources and other data sets that adhere to strict data collection and analysis standards, including the US Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
A first-of-its-kind tool, the Congressional District Health Dashboard provides congressional staff, federal and state attorneys general, journalists, researchers and others with data on health and the conditions that affect health in every congressional district across the country, fueling constituents and policymakers’ efforts to take action and drive change. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the dashboard builds on the foundation of the City Health Dashboard and responds to requests for additional unbiased data on health and well-being at the congressional district level.