Full text: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016
March 09,2017   By:Xinhua
Life expectancy dropped. Life expectancy in the United States in 2015 declined for the first time in more than two decades, according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics on December 8, 2016. Life expectancy for men fell from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015, while that for women decreased from 81.3 to 81.2. Overall life expectancy dropped from 78.9 to 78.8 years (www.bbc.co.uk, December 8, 2016). At the same time, suicide rate in the United States rose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 41,149 suicides in the United States in 2013, up by about 41 percent from 1999. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of all deaths in the United States in 2013, claiming twice as many lives than homicide (www.bls.gov, December 2016). In 2015, the suicide rate in the United States surged to its highest level in almost three decades (www.bbc.co.uk, April 22, 2016).
Health conditions declined. For U.S. residents, self-reported health status had fallen among each age group between 25 and 59 since 1990, according to a report from Gallup. The share of the working-age population suffering from a disability that prevented them from working rose from 4.4 percent in 1980 to 6.8 percent in 2015, adjusting for age. That situation was related to the exorbitant costs and weak efficiency of the U.S. health system (www.gallup.com, December 15, 2016). The convoluted and opaque system of paying for prescription drugs enabled executives of drug companies to set extraordinary prices on modest medicines that had been around for years, and some companies even used free coupons for patients to raise drug prices by 10 times, the Chicago Tribune reported on December 6 (www.chicagotribune.com, December 6, 2016).
Social security system was seriously flawed. The Des Moines Register reported that there were 1,136,849 applicants of federal disability benefits on the waiting list, which meant they could wait up to 26 months to get an administrative-law hearing on their claim for benefits (www.desmoinesregister.com, December 25, 2016). Statistics released by the singlemotherguide.com showed only 22.4 percent of the single mothers who had been laid off or looking for work received unemployment benefits in the United States (singlemotherguide.com, September 17, 2016). CNN reported that 16 state prison systems in the United States had no formal procedure to enroll prisoners in Medicaid as they reentered the community. The story said nine states had only small programs in select facilities or for limited groups of prisoners. It went on to say that these 25 states collectively release some 375,000 inmates each year. The CNN report also said two-thirds of the 9,000 chronically ill prisoners released each year by Philadelphia' s jails were not getting enrolled as they left (edition.cnn.com, December 12, 2016).
IV. Racial Discrimination Worsened
In 2016, racial relations in the United States continued to deteriorate. There were repeated incidents of African Americans being shot by white police. Racial discrimination heavily influenced law enforcement and justice fields. There were systematic gaps between minority races and white people in employment and income. Minority people endured various discriminative treatments in schools and social lives. The USA Today website reported on July 14, 2016 that a poll found 52 percent of Americans believed racism against black people was an "extremely" or "very" serious problem. According to a New York Times-CBS News survey, 69 percent of poll respondents said race relations in the United States were generally bad. Six in ten Americans said race relations were growing worse, up from 38 percent a year ago (www.usatoday.com, July 14, 2016).