The O'Malley administration kicked off an effort to bring medical services to disadvantaged neighborhoods Thursday by designating the state's first five "health enterprise zones" created under a law passed last year.
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who led the administration's efforts to launch the $4 million-a-year pilot project, said the five zones will be located in West Baltimore, Annapolis, Capitol Heights (Prince George's County), Greater Lexington Park (St. Mary's County) and Dorchester-Caroline counties.
The program's goals include reducing health disparities among races and ethnic groups, improving access to care in communities that lack services and reducing costs and hospital admissions.
The program will offer tax breaks an other incentives to physicians and community groups to bring medical care to underserved neighborhoods. The zones were chosen after community coalitions identified areas with a documented history of poverty and poor health. The five zones were selected from a field proposed by 19 coalitions.
Where a person lives is considered one of the best predictors of overall health. In Baltimore, for example, a recent study found that the life expectancy of white residents of Roland Park is about 30 years longer than that of African-Americans who live in Upton/Druid Heights.