A new online tool provides a snapshot of the health of all 435 US congressional districts

Congressional health dashboard can inform policymakers on action to close wide disparities in premature death, mental health, child poverty, broadband and more

NEW YORK, January 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, researchers from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), revealed Congressional District Health Board (CDHD), a new online tool that provides critical health data for all 435 congressional districts and 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 Health Dashboard data reveal large geographic, racial, and ethnic disparities in health and well-being among congressional districts in 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, Oklahomaand Texas on average, are 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 enables users to:

  • examine rigorous, nonpartisan data on health, education, poverty and more by congressional district and compare those 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 and racial/ethnic composition.

CDHD’s analysis of congressional district data also reveals:

  • 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 (Californianortheast and Florida) and urban congressional districts overall at 50 percent.
  • In the US, deaths from cardiovascular disease were lower in suburban areas at 194 deaths per 100,000, compared to 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 are observed across regions, with particularly large disparities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolinaand South Carolina. In more than three-quarters of the counties in these states, black newborns are roughly twice as likely to be underweight at birth as white babies (with other racial/ethnic groups falling in between), including all of South Carolina districts and five of of Louisiana six districts.

“This dashboard could be a game-changer for health policy in United States. “Using local data, members of Congress and their staff can make more informed decisions about policies that affect the health of people, communities and jobs,” said Giridhar Mallya, MD, MSHP, Senior Policy Officer at RWJF. “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 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.

About the Congressional Health Dashboard

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, CDHD builds on the foundation of City Health Board and responds to requests for additional unbiased health and wellness data at the congressional district level.

For the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity United States. In partnership with others, we work to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that gives every individual a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information visit www.rwjf.org.

About the NYU Langone Department of Population Health

The Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health brings together the fields of medicine and public health to improve population health in new York and around the world, and train students to become leaders in health care delivery, health policy, and public health. Partnering with colleagues from a variety of public, private, and community organizations, the Department conducts basic and applied research to improve the quality and effectiveness of health care and to advance community-level initiatives to improve health and health equity. Trained in a variety of disciplines, the department’s more than 130 core faculty and 400 dedicated staff specialize in research areas including: health care delivery science, health economics and policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, medical ethics, early childhood development, community health and health equity, decision science, and tobacco, alcohol, and drug use prevention and treatment. Visit us at med.nyu.edu/pophealth.

For further information contact:

Mona Elkalban: 703-589-4305 [email protected]

SAsha Wallek: 646-501-3873, [email protected]

Melissa Blair: 609-627-5937, [email protected]

SOURCE NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Langone Health

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