Here's a new twist on health care financing, courtesy of the nutbags who run Arizona:
Like many states, Arizona faces a serious budget crisis. But unlike other states, Arizona public officials have shown a remarkable skill for finding ways to address their projected $1.6 billion deficit that are unfair, unjust and cruel. Their latest bright idea is to balance the state budget on the bodies of poor Arizonans who are unlucky enough to be fat or addicted to tobacco.
Gov. Jan Brewer has now proposed levying a $50 fee on state Medicaid recipients who are obese and who don't follow a doctor-supervised slimming regimen. She also wants to charge those who smoke.
The plan, if approved by the Republican-dominated legislature, would mark the first time a state-run but federally subsidized health-care program for the poor has charged people for unhealthy acts.
This noodle-headed idea comes from the same governor and legislature that last year decided the way to balance the budget was to rescind coverage for Arizonans waiting for organ transplants. Not new cases, mind you, but people to whom coverage had been promised. Now in its wake comes a "sin tax" for the smoking, trouser-splitting poor.
Interesting, especially in the wake of all the conservative complaints about how unfair it is to tax sodas and sugary juice drinks, etc. Somehow that's monumentally unfair and intrusive, tantamount to yet another "government takeover," and spurring lobbying ads (at least in the bubble-ized DC market) saying, "now the government is trying to tell me what to feed my kids!"
But if you're poor, well, screw you. Eat what the government says, or we'll cut you off.
I guess the theory is that if the state pays your medical expenses (through Medicaid), it gets to impose this kind of control. Which of course, and by no means coincidentally, "proves the point" about socialized medicine. Ta-da!
And somehow, it's beyond all reason to point out that obese people with private insurance cost the rest of us with private insurance more of our private money just as surely as the obese poor cost the state more, thanks to risk pooling. That's crazy to point that out! Because that's socialism, too! And everyone knows rich, fat people are at all times pulling themselves up—with considerable effort, presumably—by their own severely strained bootstraps.
It's a great play, isn't it? All the negative impact socialism supposedly produces is forced on the guinea pig poor, to prove how miserable life under socialism is. But obese people (Or if you prefer, name your alternative poison here. This is not to pick on obesity.) who can "afford" private insurance get to keep their socialist subsidies from their neighbors at healthier weights who underwrite the risk pool. Nevermind that the whole concept of insurance and risk-sharing is socialistic to begin with. Except for the part where the insurance companies skim off the top of the pool to pay themselves, of course. That's pure capitalism. And we're keeping that part, thank you very much.
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