New Report Recommends State-Level EITCs as Policy Levers for Improving Health

By Devin Simpson

State lawmakers should consider enacting or expanding refundable tax credits to improve public health, according to a new report.

Trust for America’s Health recently released “Promoting Health and Cost Control in States: How States Can Improve Community Health and Well-being through Policy Change,” which outlines 13 policy recommendations outside of the healthcare sector that would improve public health and reduce healthcare costs. The recommendations would achieve six goals: support the connections between health and learning; employ harm-reduction strategies to prevent substance misuse deaths and related diseases; promote healthy behavior; promote active living and connectedness; ensure safe, healthy and affordable housing for all; and create opportunities for economic well-being.

To create opportunities for economic well-being, the report recommends enacting or expanding state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). The report highlights the positive impacts of the EITC on financial, health and educational outcomes. According to the report’s authors, an effective EITC design and implementation should include refundability, a large credit value, outreach to eligible taxpayers to raise awareness, and eligibility for workers without dependent children. The report also recommends enacting state Child Tax Credits as a complementary policy to the EITC to lift more families out of poverty.

Adam Lustig, report author and manager of the Promoting Health and Cost Control in States initiative, said, “While the healthcare sector plays an important role in providing health services when someone gets sick, many of the factors that keep people healthy are outside the healthcare system and improve where people live, work, play and learn. This report gives state policymakers a menu of evidence-based policies that have been shown to improve individual and community health.”

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted state-level EITCs to complement the federal credit. Visit the 50-state map on our website to learn more about state-level EITCs across the country.