Monday, August 3, 2009

Paying for health care

August 3, 2009

Funding health care reform in the US.

I received this note from the center for science in the public interest which is a non-profit group that publishes an excellent newsletter. It also provides important update on issues that relate to science nad politics. Because I am convinced that much of athe epidemic of neurological/ psychological diseases are linked to eating diets so devoid of nutrition courtesy all the junk food I vigorously support their call for taxing junk food to help pay for the damage / chronic disease which results from eating the junk food. Please take a few minutes to contact your political leaders in which ever country you reside. These same issues affect you whether or not you are in the US.

Dear Terry Wahls,

Although moving more slowly than the President hoped, legislation to enact comprehensive health insurance reform has inched forward this week and is very likely to be considered by the full House of Representatives and the Senate when Congress reconvenes after the August recess. Among the many issues still to be fully resolved is how to fund the large expansion of health care coverage, and the degree to which the legislation will prioritize prevention-oriented measures to reduce health care costs and improve the health of Americans.

Members of Congress need to hear from you about prevention-oriented revenue raisers like alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverage taxes that can provide more than $250 billion over the next ten years in new money for health care reform, as they work to reduce the staggering health and social costs associated with obesity and excessive use of alcohol.

Please write your Senators and U.S. Representative NOW to encourage their consideration of health taxes on alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages to help make real health care reform a reality.

Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Your Congressperson
Your Senators

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Looking for Revenue for Health Care Reform?

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

As a consumer of health care and a taxpayer, I am writing to urge you to include higher taxes on alcoholic beverages and new taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages in health care reform legislation that will be considered in Congress during the fall. Such action can raise substantial new revenue to support expanded access to and delivery of health care services and will help this country reduce the significant harms and costs of alcohol problems and obesity, which impose unsustainable burdens on our health care system and our economic productivity.

Even modest taxes (a nickel a drink extra on alcohol and 3 cents per can on soft drinks) would raise more than $100 billion over ten years; larger taxes could raise as much as $250 billion over that period. Alcohol taxes haven't been raised since 1991, and inflation has eaten up some 40% of their value. That erosion in tax has meant that alcoholic beverages have become cheaper relative to other consumer products, and much more available to underage persons.

Low prices for alcohol fuel excessive consumption, as they have for sugar-sweetened beverages, which are the only food or beverage with a direct link to obesity. Since the 1990s, consumption of soft drinks has exceeded consumption of milk, and that has contributed to widespread obesity in this country. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Medical expenditures related to obesity total more than $147 billion per year, of which half is paid with Medicare and Medicaid dollars. One way or another, we all pay a lot of those unnecessary bills.

The economic costs of alcohol are also astronomical, more than $200 billion per year, on top of 85,000 deaths from accidents, homicides, diseases, and suicides. Current federal taxes on alcohol, which bring in $9.3 billion per year, are woefully inadequate to compensate society for all that harm.

Imposing meaningful taxes on unhealthy sugar-sweetened be verages and on intoxicating and potentially addictive alcoholic drinks will have the added benefit of reducing their use and some of the associated harms. That's a perfect fit for health care reform- helping us become a healthier nation and helping to reduce health care, public safety, and social costs.

I urge you to include these health taxes in pending legislation to reform our health care system. Please let me know your views on this subject. Thank you for your consideration.


Terry Wahls

No comments: