Seriously Arizona!?

Katherine - posted on 04/04/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Cafemom

If you live in Arizona, you might soon have to pay the state government $50 to live your life as either a fat slob or a smoker. That's because Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced late last week that she's proposing "fees for adults who lead unhealthy lives," as a plan to revamp the state's Medicaid program.

Here's how it would work: Adults without children who are obese or suffer from a chronic condition and who fail to work with their doctor to meet specific goals would have to cough up $50 a year. The annual fee would apply to ALL childless adult smokers.

Sounds, uh ... oppressive and ridiculous.

Monica Coury, assistant director of Arizona's Medicaid program, told ABC News:

If you're not going to manage those things and take some personal responsibility, and in turn that costs the state more money, then you need to have some skin in the game.

Obviously, the state of Arizona and the federal government in general are trying to figure out how to pay for the ever-ballooning costs of Medicare with this "Fat Fee," as it's been called. And they're riding the wave of the Tea Party, puppeting the line about "personal responsibility!" as if that somehow justifies villainizing people who need help.

As far as smokers go, I do think people who continue to smoke without attempting to quit are clearly trying to make themselves sick. (My own parents fall into this category.) But I also think the states should just tax the hell out of cigarettes to raise money for Medicare -- not fine people for being smokers. Now, tell me Gov. Brewer, how are you gonna be able to know if someone's a sneaky smoker? Interview her friends and family? Install special smoke alarms in everyone's house?

What's even MORE absurd, though, is trying to charge people for being overweight and failing to make progress with their doctors.

What kind of standards will people have to meet? Will everyone have to reach their ideal BMI in order to avoid the charge? What about people who suffer from thyroid disorders, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, injuries, or severe disabilities that prevent them from exercising? What kind of "specific goals" will they have to meet with their doctors? It sounds like they're trying to take something that is actually very subjective (personal wellness) and squeeze it into neat and tidy boxes to make a quick buck.

But hey, Arizona isn't alone in trying to milk money out of obese people. Alabama did it too in 2008; they announced that government employees would have to pay $25 a month for insurance, otherwise free, if they didn't attempt to lose weight. There were already surcharges for people who smoked.

I just don't think threatening and punishing people with medical conditions that are out of their own control to either pay a premium or lose weight is the answer to a budget crisis. It's ironic, too, how Arizona, trying to be all libertarian about this is actually trying to assert MORE control over its residents' lives, hanging over constituents' bathroom scales.

I vehemently agree with Arizona Democratic State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema who responded to the proposed fee by saying:

We know that drinking Coke and soda pop isn't good for you, and people do it; the governor herself is one of those people. It's very nanny state.

But hey, if it's approved (and I hope/think it won't be, because federal government rules may prevent it), the provision would take effect on October 1. Either way, Arizona residents who want to save some money might want to start thinking about a slim-down plan STAT.

Do you think smokers and obese people have a "personal responsibility" to quit or trim down for the sake of the Arizona state budget?

17 Comments

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Tania - posted on 04/05/2011

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I don't understand how they could make someone pay if they have a chromic medical conditions. Also if someone dosen't want to be treated for said medical condition...I thought that was their right?

[deleted account]

That is where my employer is ahead, they've covered preventive care all along. With the new health care reform, it's covered under the majority of plans nationwide now too.

Jenni - posted on 04/05/2011

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What are the BMI requirements to be considered obese?
Why not just lie and say you don't smoke?
*shakes head*
Tax cigarettes and Mc Donalds. Bring the price of a cheeseburger up to $8. :) I like how the government has low restrictions on what garbage companies are allowed to sell the public and then penalize individuals for buying the addictive shit.

Krista - posted on 04/05/2011

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Yep -- Jan Brewer's bringing in more pointless, unenforceable legislation to make it look like she's doing something, while Arizona's real problems go completely unaddressed. She's all about the pointless gestures, that one.

Amanda - posted on 04/05/2011

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I'm a smoker, and I agree with this bill. Great idea. Smokes are already taxed to shit here in Ontario. almost 10 dollars a pack (most of that is taxes). But this doesnt work because many people buy native smokes to avoid the taxes, why any sane person would pay 10 dollars a pack when they can spend 15-30 dollars a carton.

A junk food tax (processed food, fast food, corner store food) would be a much better idea, that way if someone is over weight due to health issues but eats very well, they wont be taxed for their weight issue.

Amber - posted on 04/04/2011

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@ Sheena ~ 1. The law was not created by Arizona. 2. A law must be broken before any inquiries about immigration/residency status take place. And we're already required to show our licenses or other photo ID....so I'm still at a loss as to why this is such a public issue. I expect to have to prove who I am when pulled over or even after being witness to an accident/crime, and I was born here.


I don't think that punishment is a good way to fix this particular problem though. A program that encourages healthy living and actually teaches people how to implement it would be best. Give rewards for losing weight, not penalties for not losing weight.
One of my friends was given $250 gift card at work for losing 25 pounds in 6 months.

And I see no reason to tax smokers twice. Increase the tax they have to pay if necessary, but don't create two separate taxes for the same thing.

Alexis - posted on 04/04/2011

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@ sheena the "profiling law" you talk about is the same law that has been federal law all along, all she did was enforce it as a state law....Also Arizona has a health care that is only for Arizona and its called AHCCES, its our states version of medicade\medicare and is covered only by the state of AZ taxes, therefore they don't get help from the Fed's for the cost....if I understand it correctly, it has also been better than medicade\medicare for a very long time, but now the state can no longer afford it....to balance not only AZ budget but the Federal budget as well many government programs are going to have to be cut, which means yes, people will have to figure things out for themselves or plan for the future and save money and determine what priorities are. Cable is not a priority...Im not saying that everyone on AZ health care doesnt need to be on it, but a lot of people that are on it could do without...I know people that qualify for it, use it but then spend their money that could go to their own healthcare on things like electronics, beer, gas hog cars, etc.

Alexis - posted on 04/04/2011

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What drives me crazy about all government and some private health care providers is that preventive care is not covered....wouldnt preventive med help reduce overall cost in the first place. For example paying for a nutritionist and even a personal trainer for a border line diabetic or overweight person then the care for a diabetic or obese person. The way the health care system is set up you have to get ill first before they treat you, which is expensive VS preventing the issues in the first place. IMO.

Ez - posted on 04/04/2011

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This Governor is a nutbag. I am a smoker, but understand raising taxes on cigarettes. But fining people for having a smoke with their coffee and refusing to diet? haha not likely.

Stifler's - posted on 04/04/2011

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I don't know how they will enforce this fat smoker tax. there are skinny people who drink just as much coke, eat as much shit food, smoke and have just as many health problems and cost the government just as much money.

Lady Heather - posted on 04/04/2011

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A voluntary health plan is quite different from state-wide policy. The BMI thing would piss me off. Well, not me personally. I fit in it quite nicely. My husband on the other hand - he is apparently 30 lbs too big. And trust me - 30 lbs off him would look ridiculous. And it's not because of muscle. He's got a huge frame. He has to buy size large shirts and tailor them down in the waist because his shoulders are too big for the medium. As far as I know, shoulder weight isn't super life threatening. The BMI doesn't work for most men I know. Just the ones with really slight frames. I wonder how much that would be taken into consideration by a government. They clearly aren't that bright. I'm beginning to think this woman has an obsession with unenforceable laws.

[deleted account]

The company that I work for (not for profit HMO) has initiated some plans like this. If you fall within certain health risks, you have a choice. You can meet with your doctor to find a way to be healthier and pay less (lower deductibles for example) or you can not and pay more. The guidelines so far seem pretty reasonable as in what they are looking for (healthy BMI without discounting other issues like muscle etc), non-smoking, etc. It's volunatary for the employer group to select this plan. So far there are only 2 pilot groups. We're all waiting to see how it plays out. The goal is to 'encourage' better choices.

[deleted account]

tax smokes more...great idea...tax them until they are soo expensive no one will smoke !
My SO smokes....eew sometimes he is just so nasty to kiss...I'm teaching gabby that its gross when daddy smokes...i dont want her to follow his example...so when ever he says hes going for a smoke...i go EEEWWW icky!!! and gabby fans her nose....hahahahaha (he doesnt smoke around her...she copies me with the fanning...)

Sheena - posted on 04/04/2011

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Well it is not surprising to me that Arizona is the state doing that....they are the ones that passed the law saying that it is okay for people to do racial profiling so hey it seems to me like Arizona is all about going back to the days of communism where the government runs every one's life and when it was legal to have slaves and treat anyone who was not Caucasian as if they did not matter. It's amazing to me that she even was elected. Good job voters!!

Katherine - posted on 04/04/2011

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This is the same governor that wants to make abortion illegal based on sex or race.
The same nut governor that wanted to do something else totally wacko....now I can't remember what it was.

Rosie - posted on 04/04/2011

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hmmm, not sure how i feel. they are costing the state more money by living the way they do. yet, the point about the pop, and other sugary items not being the healthiest for you is a good one.
i think a better idea would be to tax smokes more, and maybe reward people for quitting, or losing weight.

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