2020 Healthiest Communities Rankings: Improving health through data

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Location, location, location.

It plays a fundamental role in determining the health, well-being, and life expectancy of the approximately 330 million Americans around the country. A key component to creating long-lasting improvements in population health lies in the collection and analysis of data to identify and address the diverse needs of specific communities across the country.

The Aetna Foundation's multi-year collaboration with U.S. News & World Report on the Healthiest Communities rankings does just that, by providing data-based insights on how counties around the country are minimizing chronic diseases and providing access to health care at lower costs.

A look at 2020

The rankings assessed nearly 3,000 counties nationwide in 10 crucial categories – Community Vitality; Equity; Economy; Education; Environment; Food & Nutrition; Population Health; Housing; Infrastructure; and Public Safety. This year’s rankings also applied new metrics to provide an in-depth look at the unprecedented impact of COVID -19, and its relationship to the social determinants of health in communities across America.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the existing disparities in our health care system that have a significant impact on underserved communities,” said Garth Graham, Vice President of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer, CVS Health.

“Using data from the Healthiest Communities rankings can help create insight on how to better address COVID-19 at the community level, while also helping health care organizations develop solutions to combat the health inequities that have historically plagued underserved communities.”

America’s healthiest communities

For 2020, the top five Healthiest Communities scored above the national average in at least eight of the 10 categories. Taking the top spot as the healthiest community in the United States is Los Alamos County, New Mexico. The community – with a population of approximately 17,000 people, and  known as a major site of the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s –  received perfect scores in 12 metrics, and ranked among the best for low racial segregation and low preventable hospital admissions. Los Alamos was second on the annual listing in 2019.

Where did your county rank on the list? Find out on US News & Word Report's county profiles and rankings.

For more information on Healthiest Communities, follow coverage on Facebook and Twitter using #HealthiestCommunities

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Aetna and Lyft to give schools access to essential rides for families

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Aetna, a CVS Health company (NYSE: CVS), today announced it will give $100,000 in essential rides for families in school districts around the country such as Chicago, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle, in collaboration with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and Lyft to help families this school year.  

Aetna Senior Vice President of Public and Labor Erich Twachtman explained, “By teaming up with NSBA and Lyft, Aetna is demonstrating our commitment to addressing the social determinants of health (including access to transportation) during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Specifically, this contribution will help public school students and their families prepare for whatever the new school year looks like during this extraordinary crisis.”

This collaboration is an expansion of LyftUp – Lyft’s comprehensive effort to expand transportation access to those who need it most. A significant challenge among these school district families is securing transportation to complete essential trips. “By activating LyftUp, we’re able to help them get to grocery stores and food banks and access other essential services,” said Lisa Boyd, director of Social Impact at Lyft. 

NSBA has identified high risk communities in targeted locations across the country who will benefit from this program. Here’s how the program works:

  • Transportation challenged families in rural and disadvantaged areas will receive Lyft codes.
  • The Lyft codes are valued at $20 and $40.
  • The codes have a 60-day expiration date but can be used multiple times within the sixty days until the full dollar amount has been used.

Students in need and their families can access the ride-sharing resources at www.lyft.com/lyftup.

“NSBA is happy to collaborate with Aetna to provide much needed support to public school students and families who are struggling during this pandemic,” said Anna Maria Chávez, National School Boards Association Executive Director & CEO. “We value our relationship with Aetna and Lyft and look forward to collaborating on future initiatives that expand opportunities and increase equitable access for our nation’s school children.”

About Aetna 

Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 38 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. 

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MinuteClinic Expands Video Visit Offering to Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey

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MinuteClinic Video Visits are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the CVS Pharmacy App and on-line

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced that MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, has rolled out its video visit offering in the states of Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey. People in these states with minor illnesses, minor injuries and skin conditions can now seek care through MinuteClinic Video Visits, a telehealth offering. MinuteClinic Video Visits provide patients with access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week from their mobile device or computer.

“We’re excited to now be able to offer MinuteClinic Video Visits in Colorado, Illinois and New Jersey as we continue to build our national practice for our virtual care offering,” said Sharon Vitti, President, MinuteClinic. “This new MinuteClinic service demonstrates our commitment to delivering high-quality care when and where our patients need it, at prices they can afford; providing people who live and work in these states with access to an innovative, on-demand health care option right from their cell phone or computer.” 

MinuteClinic Video Visits can be used to provide care for patients ages two years and older who are seeking treatment for a minor illness, minor injury, or a skin condition and are initiated through a computer or mobile device, including through the CVS Pharmacy app.  Patients who opt to seek care through a MinuteClinic Video Visit will experience the same high-quality, evidence-based care they receive at traditional MinuteClinic locations inside select CVS Pharmacy and Target stores.

When requesting a video visit, each patient will complete a health questionnaire and be matched to a board-certified health care provider licensed in their state.  Prior to the start of the video-enabled visit, the provider will review the completed questionnaire together with the patient’s medical history. During the MinuteClinic Video Visit, the provider will assess the patient’s condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment following evidence-based clinical care guidelines. For patients who require a prescription as part of their treatment plan, the provider will submit the prescription to the patient’s preferred pharmacy. If it is determined the patient should be seen in person for follow-up care or testing, the provider will recommend that the patient visit a health care provider in their community, such as their primary care provider or a nearby MinuteClinic location.

A MinuteClinic Video Visit costs $59, which is currently payable by credit, debit, FSA and HSA cards. Insurance coverage will be added to the experience in the coming months. The service, first introduced in August 2018, is now available in a total of 40 states - Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming  -- and Washington D.C.  Since MinuteClinic Video Visits launched in August 2018, thousands of Video Visits have been conducted, with more than third of them taking place outside of traditional clinic hours.

Information about initiating a MinuteClinic Video Visit is part of the clinic locator on the MinuteClinic web site for states where the service is available. A patient can also initiate a MinuteClinic Video Visit directly from the CVS Pharmacy app.

MinuteClinic Video Visits are made possible through our collaborative work with Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC), the global leader in virtual care, and by leveraging Teladoc’s technology platform.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is the nation's premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Whether in one of its pharmacies or through its health services and plans, CVS Health is pioneering a bold new approach to total health by making quality care more affordable, accessible, simple and seamless. CVS Health is community-based and locally focused, engaging consumers with the care they need when and where they need it. The Company has approximately 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 102 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS Health also serves an estimated 38 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offerings and a leading standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The Company believes its innovative health care model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

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Christine Cramer
CVS Health

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Guardian Angel opioids program reaching members at critical time

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Health care should be personal, and it should help us during our most vulnerable, difficult times. There are few instances when this type of support is more necessary than when people end up in the emergency room because of a problem they can’t control any more.

Unfortunately, we are seeing this scene play out more and more frequently across the country. Emergency department visits for opioid overdoses rose 30 percent in all parts of the United States from July 2016 to September 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to address one of the biggest public health issues of this generation, we don’t just need to do more – we need to think differently about how to solve this problem. We have to connect with people during the times that they are amost receptive to help, such as after an overdose.

Aetna recently launched the Guardian Angel program, which is intended to reach our members during this critical time. As soon as we learn that a member has had an opioid-related overdose, a specially-trained case manager – a registered nurse that used to work in an addiction unit and is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor – reaches out to educate that person on treatment options in their area. While our nurse case manager can refer the member to a local health care provider, they can also provide access to nearby social support services. More than anything else, they can serve as a lifeline for members and their families.

The first “Guardian Angel” nurse case manager has connected with hundreds of overdose victims over the past few months. Through her outreach, we are seeing the widespread nature of this epidemic: Individuals as young as 18, up to those in their 60s, from every corner of the country. But we are also seeing people who want help. We have been able to initially engage with 40 percent of the people that we have reached out to, which is two- to three-times greater than our usual rate for telephone-based care management programs.

Much more important than the numbers, we are hearing stories of people starting on a road to recovery. Some examples:

  • A 22-year-old woman from Colorado who had two overdoses on fentanyl-laced heroin, now attending group therapy five times a week.

  • A 63-year-old woman from Ohio who has battled a painkiller addiction for more than a decade, agreeing to start treatment and connect with local health care specialists.

  • A 38-year-old man from Missouri – a single father with a nine-year-old daughter – who asked our nurse case manager about starting on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) immediately.

While these stories are encouraging, we understand that they are just a small step, and that we need to work with all parts of the health care system to address this epidemic. With that in mind, the Aetna Foundation recently announced two grants totaling $1 million to the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (FADAA). Conducted in collaboration with the Florida Hospital Association and the Florida College of Emergency Physicians, the effort is intended to provide individuals with opioid use disorder with access to treatment services at a time when there is the greatest opportunity to intervene and address the addiction. This follows the model we developed with grants earlier this year in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, working with state leaders and community organizations to develop local solutions.

These programs, along with other elements of Aetna’s multi-faceted approach to reduce opioid use and abuse, won’t solve the opioid epidemic on their own. But we know that they can positively impact people’s lives. And I know from personal experience how important that type of support can be. After I suffered a severe skiing accident in 2004, doctors prescribed me a number of opioid-based painkillers. While it never got to the level of addiction, I absolutely needed help to figure out a way to manage my pain without prescription medication. I was fortunate enough to meet people that helped me along my journey, and I’m forever grateful to them. My hope is that some of our members who are in these situations will eventually have the same types of feelings about the Aetna “guardian angel” that made a difference in their lives.

NoteThis article has also been posted to the U.S. News & World Report website.

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Healthy communities, Aetna Foundation garner national and international exposure

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Dr. Garth Graham spoke at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival.
Dr. Garth Graham spoke at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival.

Dr. Garth Graham preached the importance of social determinants of health at three separate panels in June to influential and international audiences. It’s a message that the Aetna Foundation president said was deeply personal.

“People will often say, don’t take your work personally,” Dr. Graham said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on June 23. “To me, it’s all personal. Health care and the social determinants of health affecting our communities are personal.”

Dr. Graham said he’s been passionate about health care equity since he was a teenager. As a doctor and leader of the Aetna Foundation, he sees the value and importance of empowerment, every day, especially regarding health care issues.

To audiences in Aspen, at Johns Hopkins University and at Cannes Lion Health in France, Dr. Graham emphasized the idea that we can keep people healthier by giving them healthier resources and improved access their communities.

All social determinants of health can have an impact, he said. But empowerment — empowering individuals, families and communities — is a game changer, he said.

“We’ve seen the work firsthand,” Dr. Graham said.

Through the Foundation’s Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, a partnership with the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, 50 small to midsize cities and counties have made marked improvements on social determinants of health.

“We’re seeing a wide variety of projects, tackling issues as far-ranging as education, second-hand smoke and healthy behaviors,” Dr. Graham said. “What they have in common is that they are tackling community-specific issues with community-specific strengths, and it’s making all the difference.”

Read Dr. Graham’s recent bylined article in US News where his comments at Cannes Lion Health are highlighted.

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Tobacco-free college campuses

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Hats off to these U.S. colleges and universities who are committed to developing 100% smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies. Since 2016, the CVS Health Foundation, in partnership with the American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative, have provided grants to the following schools to help them advocate for, adopt and implement policies.

Learn more about our Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative and how you can help!


Concordia College Alabama
Lawson State Community College
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College
Shelton State Community College
Talladega College
University of West Alabama
Wallace Community College Selma


Ilisagvik College
University of Alaska Anchorage


Grand Canyon University
Pima County Community College
Mohave Community College


Shorter College


Antelope Valley College
Art Center College of Design
Bakersfield College
California State University, Chico
California State University San Marcos
Cerro Coso Community College
Citrus College
City College of San Francisco
Clovis Community College
College of Alameda
College of the Redwoods
Columbia College
Crafton Hills College
Cuesta College
Evergreen Valley College
Foothill College
Gavilan College
Long Beach City College
Los Angeles Valley College
Merritt College
Mills College
Orange Coast College
Oxnard College
Porterville College
Reedley College
Saint Mary's College of California
Santiago Canyon College
Shasta College
Stanford University
University of San Francisco
Ventura College
West Valley College
Whittier College


Aims Community College
Arapahoe Community College


Fairfield University
Housatonic Community College
Naugatuck Valley Community College

District of Columbia

Howard University


Flagler College
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Florida Keys Community College
Florida Memorial University
Indian River State College
Northwest Florida State College
St. Petersburg College


Brenau University
Morehouse College
The Interdenominational Theological Center


Chaminade University of Honolulu
Kaua'i Community College
University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii on behalf of Maui College


North Idaho College


St. Xavier University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Indiana State University
Indiana University
Indiana University Bloomington
Saint Mary's College


Fort Scott Community College


Frontier Nursing University
Western Kentucky University


York County Community College


Anne Arundel Community College
Baltimore City Community College
Loyola University Maryland
St. Mary's College of Maryland
University of Maryland Eastern Shore


Bay Path University
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Ida College
Roxbury Community College
Springfield College
Urban College of Boston


Alma College
Davenport University
Ferris State University
Oakland University
University of Michigan
Walsh College
West Shore Community College


Gustavus Adolphus College
Minnesota State University, Mankato


Alcorn State University
Coahoma Community College
Hinds Community College, Utica Campus
Jackson State University
Mississippi Valley State University
Rust College
Tougaloo College
University of Mississippi
University of Southern Mississippi


University of Missouri


Great Falls College – Montana State University


Metropolitan Community College
Western Nebraska Community College


Truckee Meadows Community College
Western Nevada College

New Hampshire

Dartmouth College
University of New Hampshire

New Jersey

Bergen Community College
Montclair State University
New Jersey City University
Rowan University
William Paterson University of New Jersey

New Mexico

San Juan College
Santa Fe Community College

New York

Dominican College
Finger Lakes Community College
Herkimer County Community College
Mercy College
Nassau Community College
Nazareth College of Rochester
North Country Community College
Onondaga Community College
St. Francis College
St. John's University
St. John Fisher College
State University of New York - Sullivan
SUNY Potsdam
University at Albany, SUNY

North Carolina

Alamance Community College
Bladen Community College
Duke University
East Carolina University
Fayetteville State University
Isothermal Community College
Lenoir-Rhyne University 
North Carolina A&T University
North Carolina Central University
Piedmont Community College
Pitt Community College
Robeson Community College
Saint Augustine's University
Shaw University
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Winston Salem State University


Blue Ash College, University of Cincinnati
Bowling Green State University
Cuyahoga Community College
Lorain County Community College
Terra State Community College
University of Cincinnati
University of Dayton
University of Findlay
Wilberforce University


College of Allied Health


Oregon State University
Treasure Valley Community College


Bryn Mawr College
Chatham University
Cheyney University
Community College of Allegheny County
Community College of Philadelphia
Gannon University
Lackawanna College
Lincoln University
Penn State University 
Temple University
University of Pennsylvania 
University of Pittsburgh
Westmoreland County Community College

Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island

South Carolina

Allen University
Benedict College
South Carolina State University
Technical College of the Lowcountry
Wofford College

South Dakota

South Dakota State University


East Tennessee State University
Lane College
Meharry Medical College
Tennessee State University
University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Alvin Community College
El Paso Community College
North Lake College
Prairie View A&M University
South Texas College
Southwestern Christian College
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
Texas Christian University
Texas College
Texas Southern University
University of Texas at Dallas


Salt Lake Community College
Southern Utah University
University of Utah Health Sciences
Weber State University


Green Mountain College
Johnson State College
Vermont Technical College


Hampton University
Norfolk State University
University of Richmond
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Tech
Virginia Union University
Virginia University of Lynchburg

Virgin Islands

University of the Virgin Islands


Columbia Basin College
Pierce College
Whitworth University


Concordia University Wisconsin
Marquette University
St. Norbert College
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

West Virginia

Bluefield State College
Concord University
Eastern West Virginia Community College
Shepherd University
West Virginia State University

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