Regional Councils Aim To Equalize Health

There are new efforts to address health disparities in specific regions. KDKA's Dr. Maria Simbra reports on Regional Accountable Health Councils and how they'll work.

Video Transcript

- New efforts to address health care disparities in specific regions. Dr. Maria Simbra reports on regional accountable health councils and how they'll work.

MARIA SIMBRA: Where you live can have a big effect on your health.

TERESA MILLER: In a census tract in the city of Erie, your life expectancy is 60, when just minutes away, in the census tract over, the life expectancy is 80-- a difference of 20 years.

- Eugene Jennings of the North Side knows what it takes.

- Eat right. Do regular exercises. Keep yourself fit. We stick to the fundamentals, you know, we live longer.

- To address differences across race, gender, neighborhood, and other factors, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has organized RAHCs, or Regional Accountable Health Councils.

RANDOLPH PETERS: If you live in Squirrel Hill or if you live in the Hill, there's going to be a pretty big discrepancy in your access to health care and your access to hospitals and your access to even supermarkets, things like fresh produce. You know, eating fruits and vegetables every day, that's a lot harder if you have to travel a bus or two bus rides to get greens and produce. Those are the kind of things that determine whether or not you're going to get diabetes or high blood pressure, in the long run.

- Southwestern Pennsylvania will be one of five RAHCs. Over the next several weeks, doctors, insurers, managed care organizations, health systems, social services, and community organizations will develop a framework for reducing differences in health outcomes. The inequities have been made more obvious by the pandemic-- for example, with vaccine distribution.

BILL JOHNJULIO: If you have access or travel disparities, you're not going to be able to come down to PNC Park or to [INAUDIBLE].

RANDOLPH PETERS: You have inequities of rural poverty just a 30 minute drive outside city limits.

MARIA SIMBRA: All unique challenges for Southwestern Pennsylvania. I'm Dr. Maria Simbra, KDKA News.