BRISTOL, Tenn. - A 2014 study by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute Breaks down health rankings by nearly every county in the country,and both Tennessee and Virginia are in the bottom half of the 50 states.
The study is designed to highlight community success, identify root causes of poor health, support policy change and engage communities in health improvement.
With that in mind, state health commissioners from Tennessee and Virginia say we can do better. Dr. Marissa Levine, Virginia State Health Commissioner, says a health coverage gap exists, and that's why Governor Terry McAuliffe wants to expand Medicare. "There are many people, many of whom are employed, who are working, but don't make enough money to buy insurance or be subsidized through the federal exchange," said Levine.
Dr. Levine believes giving more people access to quality health care will improve where these health numbers stand. "If we can invest some time, effort and funding we can keep people out of the hospital. We can prevent the type of complications that exist for issues like diabetes, so people can not only live longer, but live much better lives," said Levine.
She wants early access for parents and children, part of the bigger picture in identifying health problems before one becomes serious. "[It's a] very important piece of public health improvement so that folks can access services earlier on and certainly in a preventive manner for any of the diseases they are dealing with," said Levine.
Tennessee Department of Health commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner wants people to take charge of their health before it becomes a problem. "We have to get people to understand that maintaining health is a lot better than having health saved once you've lost it," said Dreyzehner.
Dr. Dreyzehner told News 5 that eating healthy, exercise, avoiding tobacco use and getting seven and half hours of sleep a night helps improve health. "We're trying to make the healthy choice the easy choice the default choice and to do that you can't stop it at a state line or county line," said Dreyzehner.