What We're Reading: US Life Expectancy Drops; Vaccine Ties to Rare Heart Inflammation; Expanding the Medicaid Safety Net

The average US life expectancy decreased by nearly 2 years from 2018 to 2020, with minority groups affected the most; the FDA will add a rare heart inflammation warning to fact sheets for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines; a series of expansions to the Medicaid safety-net program is reportedly in consideration.

Pandemic Led to Largest Drop in US Life Expectancy Since WWII

According to a study published Thursday in BMJ, the average US life expectancy decreased by nearly 2 years from 2018 to 2020, with the worst decline found in minority groups such as Black and Hispanic people. Largely due to the pandemic, NPR reports that the drop in average US life expectancy, from 78.7 years in 2018 to 76.9 years in 2020, marks the largest decrease observed since World War II (WWII). In addition to COVID-19, factors associated with decreased longevity included disruptions in health care, disruptions in chronic disease management, and the behavioral health crisis.

                                                                                                           

Rare Heart Inflammation Linked With mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

Yesterday, an official from the FDA said the agency is rapidly moving to add a warning to fact sheets for Pfizer's and Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines amid reports of a rare risk in developing inflammatory heart conditions. As reported by POLITICO, cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in vaccine recipients aged 30 and younger were noted to be of particular interest. As these rare cases appear to resolve on their own, CDC advisers are urging teens and young adults to still seek vaccination, noting that the benefits of COVID-19 protection outweigh the risks.

Efforts to Reform the Medicaid Safety Net Set in Motion

As reported by Kaiser Health News, the Biden administration was noted to be quietly engineering a series of expansions to the Medicaid safety net program that would work to provide coverage for millions of low-income Americans and boost enrollment. With some efforts to boost the program funded by the COVID-19 relief bill passed in March, the Biden administration is seeking to further add to the surge in enrollment reported in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Notably, Medicaid-funded services that have not been traditionally offered in the past, such as food and housing, may be pursued as well.