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January 19, 2011

Like many states, New Jersey’s healthcare system is facing a varied set of vexing issues, so it’s comforting to know that the state ranks relatively high in terms of overall quality of healthcare. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement. The Garden State ranks tenth in the nation for overall healthcare, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the health services research arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency ranks each state across 100 measures of what it deems necessary for quality care. It gave New Jersey a score of 56.60, which it called slightly above average. Nevertheless, the Garden State ranked among the best-performing states and slightly stronger that the rest of the Mid-Atlantic.

In terms of clinical areas, the state got its highest marks for the care of heart and respiratory diseases, while measures related to cancer, diabetes and maternal and child heath ranked lower on the scale. In terms of types of care, the agency ranked New Jersey "strong" in measures related to chronic care but just average in terms of acute and preventive care. When it came to how various settings performed, state home healthcare was rated "very strong," while hospitals and nursing homes were judged strong. Ambulatory services performed the worst but was deemed "average." In almost all cases, New Jersey performed more strongly on the various metrics than it had in past years.

States that performed best in the ranking include New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine and Rhode Island. At the bottom of the list were Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.

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