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Life Expectancy on the Decline for First Time in 23 Years


A new report reveals that life expectancy is on the decline thanks to rising fatalities from heart disease and other serious conditions.

Welcome to Practice Rounds, our weekly column exploring what's being covered in the larger world of healthcare.

Life Expectancy Drops

This week, the National Center for Health Statistics released a report revealing that for the first time in 23 years, life expectancy in the U.S. dropped. The Washington Post reports that the drop in life expectancy comes because of rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents, and other conditions. All told, eight of the 10 leading causes of death saw an increase of death rates. The life expectancy for both men and women dropped. However, experts told The Washington Post that people shouldn't read too much into one year of data as the numbers could reverse themselves next year.

21st Century Cures Act Passes

After passing the House last week, the 21st Century Cures Act passed the Senate by an overwhelming amount. The measure, which would aim to improve the speed and efficiency at which the FDA can approve drugs, passed by a vote of 94 to 5. The bill moves to President Obama's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. The $6.3 billion bill would pour money into Alzheimer's and cancer research, and help fight the opioid crisis. After the Senate vote, Obama released a statement, according to The New York Times that said, "The Cures Act makes important investments that will save lives."

Trump's Get Together with Anti-Vaxxer Concerns Docs

Over the summer, President-elect Donald J. Trump met with Andrew Wakefield, a prominent leader of the anti-vaccine movement, Patient Care reports. This meeting, along with Trump's remarks during his campaign questioning the effectiveness of vaccine safety and effectiveness, has rattled many specialists in infectious disease and public health now that he has been elected president. Many are worried this gives the anti-vaccine crowd new life. Matthew Boulton, professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan, predicted that "the anti-vaccine community will grow more vocal and assertive because they perceive [Trump] as an ally."

Hospitals Concerned over ACA Repeal

The American Hospital Association (AHA) released a report this week outlining their concerns over the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The association says that a repeal of ACA would cost hospitals a total of $165.8 billion with the restoration of Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) reductions. The AHA said there are also potential losses of $289.5 billion from reductions in a hospital's inflation updates if payment reductions in the ACA are not restored and $102.9 billion if the ACA's Medicare and Medicaid DSH reductions aren't restored. The report also indicated 22 million people would lose insurance by 2026.

Quote of the Week:

Healthcare Holiday Wish List

"Thinking about the recent election, I think that my one and overriding wish would be for all Americans work on finding healing from the election, and work on finding the common ground that binds us all together as one. Despite the division of the election, I honestly believe that we all have much more in common that we have differences."

Stephen H. Hanson, PA-C, a Bakersfield, Calif.-based plastic and reconstructive surgery physician assistant

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