We Need a Health New Deal | U.S. News

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During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt and his allies instituted a sweeping program of reforms to address the crisis. These reforms, known collectively as the New Deal, went beyond economic recovery, to reimagine the role of government in American life.

Today, our political debate is animated by talk of a Green New Deal. Like its namesake, the Green New Deal is a response to a crisis: climate change. It calls for a transformation of the American economy and social contract on a scale not seen since the days of FDR. Its suggested reforms include providing universal healthcare, creating a federal jobs guarantee and securing broader investment public goods. These measures tackle the core socio-economic injustices that underlie climate change.

As large as climate change looms, however, it is a mere subset of this country's crisis of health. Between 2016 and 2017, U.S. life expectancy declined from 78.7 to 78.6 years. This marked the third time our life expectancy declined in as many years, a multiyear drop not seen since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed about 675,000 Americans. Even taking into account adjustments to the data by the CDC, life expectancy in the U.S. remains flat at best, and has not increased the way it has in other developed countries. This is a consequence of overlapping epidemics, such as opioids, obesity, and gun violence. Climate change, for its part, adds to our poor health by fueling natural disasters, amplifying infectious threats, and taking a toll on our mental health.

Read the full piece at U.S. News.