How Cities Can Affect Health: "Policy Surveillance" Can Help Show Which Government Policies Actually Work

Government can have an impact on health – if governments actually implement the policies that evidence has shown can work.

Shelley Hearne, president of CityHealth, laid out for National Press Foundation fellows what those policies are and which cities are following them. CityHealth examines the nation’s largest 40 cities for the policies that can make real impacts on people’s everyday quality of life and health. The measures are backed by experts and have a track record of bipartisan support.

Seidman: Creating a healthy community takes a level playing field

For anyone with a more quotidian understanding of “public health,” as the policies and laws designed to monitor and regulate people’s behavioral choices, the conference themes — homelessness, affordable housing, education, economic opportunity, climate change — might have seemed broad or off-topic. But in fact this “bigger picture” is what communities should be looking at to improve health outcomes, said Shelley Hearne, president of City Health, which helps cities create evidence-based solutions to “bigger” problems like these.

The Community Guide: CityHealth Gives Local Communities Evidence-Based Tools to Improve Health

Creating and implementing public health policy can be a daunting task for local communities. Using evidence-based interventions recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), CityHealth provided cities with blueprints for healthier populations. “Having a healthy population is one of the best drivers of a strong, vital economy,” said Shelley Hearne, DrPH, CityHealth’s principal investigator. “What we did with CityHealth is conceptually focus on cities. Cities are the centers of innovation. They’re trying new approaches, new strategies, and in addition to a focus on populations and a willingness for cooperation, there may be less partisanship than at a state or federal level.”

Culture of Health Blog: A Journey From Philanthropy to Public Health and Back Again

Building on the partnership theme, Kaiser Permanente recently joined with the de Beaumont Foundation as a national partner in CityHealth. “Kaiser Permanente covers more than 12 million lives,” Brian said, “and they’ve become a partner in CityHealth. That’s a drop-the-mic moment. It shows increasing recognition that healthcare alone can’t make us healthy. That other community-based strategies are needed.”

American Journal of Managed Care In Focus Blog: Examining the Role of Inclusionary Zoning in Health

The shift to value-based reimbursement has forced health systems to pay more attention to social determinants of health, and studies show that one stands out: Housing, both the quality and the location, is one of the best-researched indicators of overall health. Health systems are even designing interventions to improve housing for patients who consume more than their share of health resources.

Health Affairs: Mapping Out Inclusionary Zoning At The Local Level: City Leadership, Housing, And Health

Growing evidence cited in Health Affairs’ recent series of Health Policy Briefs and elsewhere indicates that safe, affordable housing is necessary to improve health. These points include reducing exposure to toxins, boosting mental health, and freeing up a greater share of a family’s income for health care and food.

Governing: Is Your City Helping You Be Healthy? The Rankings Are In.

"Most people spend a few hours a year in the doctor’s office. The other 364 days out of the year, people are in the care of their city."

That's according to Loel Solomon, vice president of community health at Kaiser Permanente. Together with the de Beaumont Foundation as part of the CityHealth initiative, his organization examined the 40 largest cities to see how well they're helping residents live their healthiest lives. They looked at things like paid sick leave policies and whether people can bike or walk to work.

Long Beach Post: Long Beach’s Health and Quality of Life Policies Earn It Silver Medal in New CityHealth Report

By Stephanie Rivera

A recently released report that examined local policies affecting the quality of life and health of residents in the country’s 40 largest cities has awarded Long Beach a silver medal, an improvement over the city’s bronze earning last year.

“The City is proud to be honored for our efforts in adopting policies that really make a difference in residents’ lives,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “Our movement from Bronze to Silver status this year shows our City’s commitment to improving quality of life for all who live, work, and play in Long Beach.”

Indiana Public Media: Recent Report Says Pre-K Policies Play Key Role In Health

By Jeanie Lindsay

A new report ranks Indianapolis among the worst major cities in the nation for policies to support community health.

A group called CityHealth includes pre-K as a critical component of health. The group assessed different policies in key areas including transportation and education to assess how they support community outcomes.

San Antonio Express News: Report: S.A. has improved public health policies

By Krista Torralva

San Antonio showed “major” improvement in its public health policies and got special recognition for high-quality prekindergarten education and the city’s tobacco ordinances, according to an annual national ranking released last week.

CityHealth, a nonprofit advocacy group, awarded San Antonio an overall silver medal in an evaluation of public health policies in the nation’s 40 most populous cities. San Antonio did not receive a medal last year, the first year CityHealth put out its report.

“San Antonio was the only city that shot up like this,” CityHealth President Shelley Hearne said. “A lot of cities are paying attention to what happened in San Antonio.”

CityHealth identified nine evidence-based policies that could be implemented in the cities it evaluated. Of those, San Antonio was recognized for its pre-K education, raising the legal smoking age to 21 and its ban on indoor smoking, its complete streets and restaurant food-safety policies.

Smart Cities Dive: Report: Most large US cities earn high marks for public health policies

By Chris Teale

  • A new report has found the majority of large U.S. cities lead the way on adopting policies to help residents’ health and wellbeing, but others are behind. The CityHealth initiative by the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente scored the 40 largest U.S. cities based on nine health policy areas: affordable housing, alcohol sales control, Complete Streets, earned sick leave, food safety, health food procurement at city buildings, high-quality pre-K, smoke-free indoor air and raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.

WTOP News: DC earns ‘silver medal’ for health, quality of life

By Rachel Nania

D.C. is once again on the medal stand for being a healthy city.

The newly released 2018 CityHealth report, which evaluates various policies that support and improve health and quality of life in 40 U.S. cities, awarded the nation’s capital a silver medal.


WJCT Public Media: Report: Jacksonville Lacks Healthful Public Policies

By Ryan Benk

CityHealth, an initiative founded by the de Beaumont Foundation and health insurer Kaiser Permanente, rates Jacksonville near the bottom for policies that encourage good health and a positive quality of life.

The initiative uses a medal system to rate the 40 most populated cities based on nine public policies CityHealth believes will make residents healthier.

“There are about 300 different policies that cities, states, federals have put in place that have an impact on health,” CityHealth President Shelley Hearne said. “We took a look at the entire scope of policies, laws [and] opportunities for cities out there and we put them through a series of filters,” she said.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Report: Columbus trails other large US cities in policies to promote healthy lives

By Kevin Stankiewicz

Columbus is changing — and a new report recommends some of its policies need to follow suit to ensure residents can lead healthy, quality lives.

The report, released Tuesday by CityHealth, studied public-health policies in the country’s 40 largest cities, and found that Columbus met its standards in only three of nine categories: food safety, smoke-free indoor air and laws limiting the purchase of tobacco to those who are at least 21 years old.

OREGONIAN: Portland earns bronze medal for health policies

By Corlyn Voorhees

Portland earned an overall bronze medal rating from a health advocacy group Tuesday for policies that benefit citizens' health and improve quality of life.

Oregon's biggest city received gold medals in two categories relating to tobacco use: the state's tobacco purchasing age of 21 and its ban on smoking and vaping indoors.

CityHealth, an initiative of the du Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, released its first report evaluating health-related city policies in 2017. Portland earned no overall medal last year but was one of 10 cities that improved its ranking in 2018. It earned two bronze medals and two gold medals across the nine policies evaluated in the report.

COLUMBUS PATCH: Columbus Policies Good At Curbing Tobacco, Not Much Else: Report

By Daniel Hampton

When it comes to policies that improve health and well-being of its residents, Columbus policies are really good at curbing tobacco use and having restaurants post safety inspection grades.

But apparently there's a lot of room for improvement.

That's according to a new report released Tuesday by the initiative CityHealth, which examined the 40 largest cities in the U.S. for nine vital policies that help residents live healthier lives and enable communities to thrive.