RALEIGH—Think NC First today released a new report on health disparities that plague North Carolina’s health care system. The report written by Lee Dixon, Director of the Albemarle State Policy Center, looks at one solution already at work in Maryland—Health Enterprise Zones.

Health disparity is a lack of equity or fairness in health care outcomes based on uneven distribution of income, education or opportunity. We often think of health disparities in terms of location, where some communities lack health resources like doctors, hospitals or insurance.

The State of Maryland chose to address these problems with an innovative new program called Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs). This paper, Tackling Health Disparities: Considering Health Enterprise Zones for North Carolina, describes the Maryland program, the state of existing health disparity programs in North Carolina, and how HEZs might work in North Carolina.

“The Health Enterprise Initiative is innovative in its design, and its approach has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing health care priority outcomes and disparities,” wrote Dixon.

HEZs empower local communities to tackle health disparities by incorporating economic development principles into public health. Local communities must apply and compete for resources and incentives by proposing a sustainable plan to improve measurable health outcomes for a defined population. 

For more questions or comments about the report, please contact Lee Dixon at 202-255-9190 or lee.dixon@albemarle-statecenter.org.

About the Author
Lee Dixon is an experienced health policy manager who has worked at the local, federal, academic, and state levels in analyzing and affecting health care policy. In 2007, Dixon established the Albemarle State Policy Center, a non-partisan resource dedicated to identifying, researching, and analyzing State and Federal programs, policies, and legislation that affect the scope, quality, delivery, and financing of healthcare in the public and private sectors. Lee has previously worked for NC Get Covered, the North Carolina Community Care Networks and the NC General Assembly as fiscal and health policy analyst.

About Think NC First
Think North Carolina First (Think) is a policy and message development think tank that serves as a reliable source of evidence-based research for policy makers and thought leaders. It is Think’s mission to produce pragmatic ideas and research accessible to the average North Carolinian that can be used to formulate, debate and implement public policy.