From the New York Times:
“This really wasn’t an effort to poke the president in the eye,” said State Senator Jim Lembke, a Republican. “First and foremost, this was about defining the role of state government and the role of federal government."On the same day that Missouri voted against mandatory health insurance, the Center for Disease Control released a study listing Missouri among the most obese states in the union. From the Wall Street Journal:
Ten years ago, 28 states had obesity rates of below 20% of their adult population, the CDC report said. In the latest survey, Colorado is the only state, along with Washington, D.C., that fits that description. Also, no state had an obesity rate above 30% in 2000, whereas nine states are above that threshold today, the report said. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.Obesity is often a sign of ill health, and our country's increasing obesity rates go hand-in-hand with increasing medical costs. Here is some date from a report released last month from advocacy organization Trust for America's Health, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010,” page 107:
- Obesity-related medical costs total $147 billion a year, or nearly 10 percent of all annual medical spending (based on 2006 data).
- Of the $147 billion, Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for $61.8 billion. Medicare and Medicaid spending would be 8.5 percent and 11.8 percent lower, respectively, in the absence of obesity.
- Obese people spend 42 percent more on health care costs than healthy-weight people.
This is no time for people in blue states to crow, however. Here's more grim news. The CDC report says that "in 2000, [alarmed by our nation's obesity rate of 19.8%,] a Healthy People 2010 objective was established to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adults in the United States to 15%." Instead, we gained more weight. Lots more.
Not one state achieved the goal of a less-than-15% obesity rate by 2010. Whereas in 2000 28 states had an obesity rate of less than 20%, in 2009 only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a rate that low. In 2000, no states had an obesity rate of more than 30%; in 2009, nine states do.
When all the states are put together, our average obesity rate is 26.7% - almost 7 percentage points higher (and about 27 million more people) than nine years earlier. And since weight and height were self-reported in the study, many analysts believe our true obesity rate is even higher than the study indicates (be honest now: is the weight on your driver's license entirely accurate?).
With or without federal insurance mandates, we are seriously weighing down our nation's health-care system. If Missouri successfully challenges parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act - and it may not, because federal courts are likely to disagree with their election results - then Missouri lawmakers had better start thinking about what to do with their citizens who are too rich for Medicaid but too poor, too optimistic, too negligent, or too stubborn to pay for health-care insurance.