Letter to the Editor

Budget cuts and longevity

To the editor: I concur with Melissa Brown who wrote the Inside Business Column, “There’s is a lot in the world to be hopeful about” (Daily News-Miner, Oct. 20). However, her column does not accurately depict the ever-widening disparity between the rich and poor that includes a disparity in life expectancy.

According to a 2016 article in The New York Times, experts have long known that rich people generally live longer than poor people. But a growing body of data shows a more disturbing pattern: Despite big advances in medicine, technology and education, the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening sharply. Consequently, the poor are losing ground not only in income but also in years of life, the most basic measure of well-being.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation publishes life expectancy data by ZIP code. According to the foundation, the U.S. national average life expectancy is 78.60 years. The Alaska average is 78.10 years. However, I just recently moved from Goldstream Valley ZIP code of 99709 to Turner Street, 99701, in South Fairbanks, and based on my address change, my life expectancy has been drastically reduced by over 10 years from (above national average) 81.20 years in Goldstream Valley to (well below national average) 71.00 years in South Fairbanks.

The New York Times article points out that smoking, obesity, access to health care, and the prescription drug epidemic have helped drive the disparity.

With the recent budget cuts to the Fairbanks Rescue Mission, The Door, and the Pioneers’ Home, that chasm of economic and social inequality is only going to widen in Fairbanks communities.

The message of the budget cuts is that this administration does not care that much about certain Alaskans who just happen to reside in ZIP code 99701, which include our homeless neighbors, runaway teens, and senior citizens.

Not all Alaskans are enjoying the same prosperity and progress as those residing in the capital, and it would serve us better if our governor looked out for the health and well-being of all Alaskans, including the elderly, those living in homeless shelters, and those out on the streets.

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