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Today John Glenn died and President-elect Donald Trump named fast food CEO Andrew Puzder, an ardent opponent of minimum wage increases, to be the next Secretary of Labor. And the National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 2015 U.S. life expectancy dropped for the first time since 1993, from 76.5 years to 76.3 years for men and 81.3 to 81.2 years for women. The drop may be merely an annual statistical anomaly, affected younger white men and women and black men but not younger black women or Hispanics – with no change in life expectancy at age 65 – and reflected increased death rates from heart disease, respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, diabetes, influenza, kidney disease, and suicide. Of course conservatives like Jim Jamitis speculated that the drop in life expectancy was due to “the skyrocketing costs of Obamacare,” but Think Progress’ Casey Quinlan notes that repealing Obamacare would make it harder for working-class families to get treatment for the chronic ‘lifestyle diseases’ – obesity, drug abuse, and depression – that seem to be driving the 2015 data. Will this turn out to be a statistical anomaly and, if not, what should we do about it?
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