Starkman: Michigan Ranks Among Poorest Performing States in Health Care, Education and Infrastructure

March 09, 2021, 6:26 PM

The columnist, a Los Angeles freelancer, is a former Detroit News business reporter who blogs at Starkman Approved.

By Eric Starkman

The good news is that at least Michigan doesn’t rank at the very bottom of states serving the best interests of its residents.

A U.S. News & World Report analysis of how states are performing on behalf of their citizens ranked Michigan number 38 in the nation, placing the state near the bottom percentile. The ranking was based on a variety of metrics, heavily weighted towards health care and education, where Michigan respectively ranked 35 and 38.

Health care and education are among the most critical metrics when companies with high paying jobs are evaluating desirable locations for relocation and expansion.

Michigan’s infrastructure was ranked 35, hardly a surprise for the legion of Michiganders whose wheels are badly out of alignment because of hitting one pothole too many. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has yet to deliver on her campaign promise to "fix the damn roads."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan would likely rank even worse if the analysis was based on real-time data, rather than surveys conducted as a far back as 2017.

Health care accounted for 16 percent of the publication’s formula and the implosion of Beaumont Health, Michigan’s biggest hospital network, didn’t occur until last year when it lost more than 50 doctors, more than a dozen prominent surgeons, about half of its anesthesiology staff, 50 nurse anesthetists, and dozens of registered nurses.

Within three weeks of Beaumont outsourcing its anesthesiology services to a controversial low-cost provider in January, a patient died from anesthesia complications undergoing a colonoscopy and another patient ended up in the ICU after being given an overdose of pain medication. The co-heads of Beaumont’s cardiology department previously warned Beaumont’s chairman they had “serious concerns” about the outsourcing provider, NorthStar Anesthesia.

Whitmer didn’t take office until January 2019, so she can’t be held entirely responsible for Michigan’s dismal rankings. However, the implosion of Beaumont Health happened under her watch, and neither Whitmer nor Attorney General Dana Nessel have publicly expressed any concerns about Beaumont’s deteriorating condition.

Beaumont’s implosion was somewhat offset by Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan's teaching hospital, which U.S. News ranks as the 11th best hospital in the country.

U.S. News & World Report rankings

What saved Michigan from being ranked even lower overall was its stellar number five position in the “opportunity” category, which measures poverty, housing affordability, and equality for women, minorities and people with disabilities. On this front, Michigan was only bested by Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Missouri.

Michigan’s other best showing was the economy, which U.S. News ranked 29 in the nation.

The publication ranked Washington, Minnesota, Utah, New Hampshire, Idaho as America’s best states overall, while placing Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia and Alabama at the bottom. 

Reach Eric Starkman at: eric@starkmanapproved.com. 

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