44 million people now live in a city that has earned a CityHealth medal
WASHINGTON, D.C. (DECEMBER 7, 2021) — America’s largest cities have reached a new milestone in public health: 37 out of the 40 largest U.S. cities (92.5%) received top marks for adopting policies that improve people’s health, according to a new assessment released today by CityHealth. This is the highest percentage of cities to earn an overall CityHealth medal since the initiative began its annual ratings in 2017, with the results coming in slightly ahead of 2020 (90%) and nearly double the number from the 2017 assessment (47.5%). Today, more than 44 million people live in a city that has earned an overall CityHealth medal. Overall medals are awarded based on the combined strength and number of health policies that cities have in place.
“The fact that over 90% of cities have earned an overall CityHealth medal shows that city leaders are committed to the prioritization of health and equity in their communities as they continue to navigate the many challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly shifting economic landscape,” said Katrina Forrest, J.D., CityHealth’s co-executive director. “Thanks to the incredible leadership and resilience of city leaders and local public health officials, millions of people are benefitting from these policies that provide access to a safe place to live, a healthy body and mind, and a thriving environment.”
Albuquerque earned an overall gold medal for the first time, joining nine other cities that received CityHealth’s highest achievement for earning at least five gold medals across the individual policies. Also for the first time, Oklahoma City earned an overall bronze medal for earning gold, silver or bronze medals in at least four individual policies.
The 2021 assessment is the final time CityHealth will rate cities on its inaugural package of nine policy solutions. Over the past five years, CityHealth has worked with city leaders to redefine what health means for their cities and adopt the upstream policies that can improve people’s access to healthy choices and address critical health disparities in their communities. Several CityHealth policies, such as Complete Streets and Smoke-Free Indoor Air, have seen a remarkable rate of adoption. Tobacco 21 stands out as an exemplary story of policy success — growing from just 13 cities earning medals in 2017 to all 40 cities earning medals in 2019. This remarkable achievement was the result of locally driven innovation that ultimately became the law of the land. A retrospective look at the first chapter of CityHealth’s work was also published today as a compendium to the 2021 policy assessment.
“Over the past five years, we’ve worked with cities to rethink how ‘health’ is different from ‘health care’ and to better understand how upstream policies can improve health outcomes for the community as a whole,” said Catherine D. Patterson, M.P.P., co-executive director of CityHealth. “We congratulate the local leaders who have joined us in the movement for health by expanding access to healthy choices that can help their residents thrive for decades to come.”
Starting in 2022, CityHealth will assess cities on a new package of 12 policy solutions. CityHealth selected its new policy package following feedback from city leaders and a comprehensive review of the latest data and evidence on effective policy solutions that are shown to improve people’s health. This expanded policy package sets the gold medal criteria for cities to aspire to and is designed to be responsive to the evolving challenges cities face today. CityHealth is also growing its footprint in 2022 by including the nation’s largest 75 cities in its annual policy assessment. A complete list of the new policies and cities may be found here.
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, works to advance a package of tried and tested policy solutions that ensure all people in the largest U.S. cities have access to healthy choices. Each year, cities are awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals according to the strength and number of the policies they have in place. The data used in this assessment are produced by the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
Among the nation’s 40 largest cities, there are:
- 10 gold medal cities
- 11 silver medal cities
- 16 bronze medal cities
- 3 cities that did not earn a medal
For the first time, Albuquerque earned an overall gold medal and Oklahoma City earned an overall bronze medal.
- Albuquerque earned an overall gold medal for earning individual gold medals in Complete Streets; Earned Sick Leave; High-Quality, Accessible Pre-K; Smoke-Free Indoor Air; and Tobacco 21. The city also earned a silver medal in Healthy Food Procurement.
- Oklahoma City earned an overall bronze medal for earning individual medals in Complete Streets; High-Quality, Accessible Pre-K; Smoke-Free Indoor Air; and Tobacco 21.
Albuquerque, Oklahoma City and San Jose earned three new individual policy medals in 2021, with gains in Earned Sick Leave, Complete Streets, and Affordable Housing/Inclusionary Zoning, respectively.
* = overall medal advancement
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, works to advance a package of tried and tested policy solutions that ensure all people in our largest cities have access to healthy choices. Together with visionary city leaders, CityHealth helps cities adopt policies that can make their communities healthy and resolve critical health disparities—now and decades down the road. Learn more at cityhealth.org.
About the de Beaumont Foundation
Founded in 1998, the de Beaumont Foundation creates and invests in bold solutions that improve the health of communities across the country. The Foundation advances policy, builds partnerships, and strengthens public health to create communities where people can achieve their best possible health. For more information, visit debeaumont.org.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve almost 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. For more information, go to about.kp.org