So, how do you feel about this?

To contend with the Medicaid costs, AZ Gov. Brewer is proposing a “penalty and incentive strategy,” that would impose a $50 fee on smokers, and a similar fine on obese people. Do you think this will encourage people to “take responsibility for their own healthcare?” Is this a slippery slope? Should a similar fine be imposed on those who drink alcohol? Too much soda pop? Eat too much salt?

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12 Responses to So, how do you feel about this?

  1. Laura says:

    Oh, so irritated. First off, why just “childless adults.” What, our kids make us immune to fat and cigarettes? Second, I’m sick of politicians balancing the budget on the backs of smokers, then turning around and saying that it’s to ‘make them quit’. BS. If you wanted them to quit, you’d stop subsidizing the production of tobacco and you’d make cigs illegal, and impose a hefty fine. But no, it’s a cash cow. So now, instead of going after the massive fraud in the Medicaid System (it’s national, why wouldn’t it exist as well in AZ?), let’s just tax people who are already poor, addicted, sick, or a combination of all three.

    I get that eating too much, smoking too much, drinking too much, etc., etc., is unhealthy and these people should get in shape, quit, whatever. But that should also be their prerogative.

    Once the state/feds take care of their end, and can prove that they’ve completely cut out the fraud and waste, and have created a streamlined and efficient program, then come to me and talk to me about taking MORE taxpayer dollars to run it. But until that happens, get your grubby paws out of our wallets. ‘Cause if this passes in AZ, for sure it’s going to happen elsewhere.

    And MSSC is right. It’s not a “fine” or a “fee” or any other PC term. It’s a tax.

  2. SKL says:

    Well, I don’t know. The current system doesn’t give these people any financial accountability for their health choices. What is a fair way to address this issue? Let’s brainstorm some ideas:

    – Have Medicaid cover only problems that are not generally related to poor health choices, such as accidents, crimes, and congenital, communicable, pregnancy-related, and old age diseases (for seniors only).

    – Have Medicaid subsidies reduced when a health problem is readily traceable to poor health choices, such as lung cancer or emphysema in a smoker.

    – Refuse expensive treatments for conditions that result from or are aggravated by poor health habits.

    – Charge everyone a user fee and give a discount or rebate to those who demonstrate they are responsible with respect to health.

    – Cut services across the board.

    – Raise taxes on everyone.

    – Borrow from our grandkids to make up the budget deficit – assuming our grandkids have any kind of credit rating.

    I don’t really like any of these, do you? If someone’s gonna suffer or pay for the budget deficit, who should it be? As someone who has never smoked nor been obese and always paid lots of taxes, should I pay still more?

    I agree that having the government in our business sucks. However, if a person is on Medicaid, the government is already in his/her business.

    By the way, my health insurance premiums are affected by weather or not I smoke or have other health issues. The differential is a lot more than $50. Nobody seems to think there’s anything wrong with that.

    • SKL says:

      For that matter, a private insurer would penalize me for things I might not have had any clear control over, such as hereditary heath issues. At least the Medicaid system isn’t planning to do that.

      Really, government interference or not, I don’t see why they can’t pony up $50 per year for such a valuable benefit. Maybe it would be better accepted if they just charged all users $50 across the board?

      • SKL says:

        Oh, and I’m sorry, but if Person X can’t afford $50/year for health insurance, how can you afford cigarettes or the amount of food that most people need to eat in order to be obese? If Person X thinks that a couple cartons of cigarettes or a cartload of pop, beer, etc. is more important than a year of health benefits, then I’m sorry. Don’t treat him. That’s what accountability and “the government out of my business” looks like.

    • SKL says:

      And I did notice (too late to fix it) that I spelled “whether” wrong. Very low on sleep!

  3. Laura says:

    You do have a point about making Medicaid users pay *something*. Except for those who are absolutely bottom-of-the-barrel poor, yes, I agree that a premium of some sort should be required. And it should have to be paid by the recipient. Medicare doesn’t do that – it takes your monthly premium just like it does everything else, as a line-item on your “pay stub” (or SSI, SSDI, whatever “check” – although everything is direct deposit now). So you don’t even know that you’re paying it. That’s a whole other issue, but I think if we had to write a check every month for SS, FICA, and everything else that is deducted before we even see our paychecks, people would be a LOT more involved and aware… not just of governmental activities (i.e. taxes), but of just how much insurance costs, as well. I’m so tired of people screaming that their health insurance should be free, so let the Gov pay for it… where do they think that money comes from????

    I still think that they need to cut out the fraud that is costing millions, possibly billions each year, THEN come and talk to the taxpayers about fines and fees for bad habits. At this point, they have the worst habit of all, so they have no room to chastise others for theirs.

  4. SKL says:

    I agree with you about the fraud. Is it just me, or is it ridiculous to hear lawmakers/executives “suggest” dealing with fraud as part of “new” legislation? You mean fraud is just completely ignored or accepted under current law? No, I think someone is just not bothering to enforce the current law. An attack on this kind of fraud should not need a budget line. It seems obvious that it should pay for itself. Or am I missing something?

  5. Phyllis says:

    How much more does the government think people can take with even more foolishness on the govs. part? Yeah, let’s add more taxes on the old, poor and sickly. I’m sorry not all diabetes is the result of poor health choices. Therefore should there be a difference between type 1, which is hereditary and type 2 which is not? Not all cancer is the result of poor life choices either. This, too, is often hereditary. They already tax smokers up the kazoo, what I’d really like to see done is more taxes on true luxury items. Private planes, Limos, yachts (not to be confused with boats used by us commoners for fishing, etc) and other items of this type. I really do believe it’s time to stop screwing the little guys, most of whom can barely make ends meet and go after the multimillionaires. But of course, that would be unpopular. Then, too, maybe the politicians could start paying their fair share for their health benefits, give up receiving salaries after the time of service is over, yada, yada, yada…… you get my gist.

    • SKL says:

      I don’t want the poor to be taxed beyond their means, but at the same time, I don’t think it makes sense to tax the so-called “rich” more and more to cover every spending agenda on behalf of the “little guy.” I just don’t see the logic in punishing those who study hard and work hard for things they have no control over. I could understand a basic “safety net,” but when the free stuff actually helps to enable an unhealthy lifestyle (more money for cigarettes), where is it going to end?

      Also, please keep in mind that every tax dollar taken from the “rich” (which Obama says includes me) is a dollar that cannot be given to charity or used to create a position of employment. And, if we are so unkind to people who create jobs in the US, they will move their businesses and their spending overseas more and more.

      But, I agree with you about politicians paying their fair share for health benefits. How do they keep getting away with that perk?

  6. mssc54 says:

    Also keep in mind that those who say they don’t pay enough taxes can always just voluntarily stroke a check to the Department of Treasury…. or send me one!

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