I am about halfway through finally reading the full text for the proposed (and mostly already through all the hoops necessary to pass into law) Health Care Bill for the US. I find myself thoroughly frustrated with it already. Mostly the text has some good intentions (ie: increasing access to good nutritious food and safe areas for physical activity, addressing disparities in this access due to economics, location, race, etc); all flavored with bad policies and worrisome proposed actions which set my panic-about-the-future radar into alert.
Since I’m not a legal expert and still working through the bill (also available in full here) I’ll just for now note ONE of my issues thus far.
In the Section: Creating Healthier Communities, in the section for “COMMUNITY-BASED PREVENTION HEALTH ACTIVITIES.” there is a part about what measurements will be taken to prove progress is being made. They are:
(i) changes in weight;
(ii) changes in proper nutrition;
(iii) changes in physical activity;
(iv) changes in tobacco use prevalence;
(v) changes in emotional well-being and overall mental health;
(vi) other factors using community specific data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey; and
(vii) other factors as determined by the Secretary. (Page 1186 of the Bill)
That’s right. In the efforts to increase the health of our nation, your WEIGHT carries more… weight than does your use of tobacco, your OVERALL MENTAL HEALTH and even changes in your nutrition or physical activity. Let that percolate for a moment. The number reflected by a scale; which measures only the size of the shell your health is contained within; means more to these metrics than any other measure of your healthy habits or healthy existence.
That, to me, does not bode well to the mindset behind this bill. Especially as I do not see the folks behind these measures (such as the CDC) actually finding that weight is NOT reduced with their efforts taking the time to think maybe weight isn’t the problem. Instead I foresee FURTHER measure aimed at reducing Obesity; rather than focusing on increasing access to fresh foods, access to safe spaces, etc.
I, for one, am more than worried; though not for many of the reasons listed by the unanimously opposed Republicans or even the minority of opposed Democrats.