AirTalk for April 5, 2011

Arizona proposes fee for obese or smoking Medicaid recipients

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Ed Yourdon/Flickr (cc by_nc_nd)

Obesity could start costing Medicaid subscribers more money in Arizona.

For the first time ever, the Arizona legislature will vote on a proposal by Governor Jan Brewer, to tax Medicaid recipients for leading an unhealthy life style. The plan would enforce that childless, obese, adults who receive Medicaid, would be required to follow a doctor’s weight loss plan or be charged an additional $50 a year for coverage. Smokers would be subject to the same requirement. Based on many medical studies, obese people and smokers do cost more in the health care system. The tax is supposed to be covering that extra health care. But, will a plan like this create healthy behavior? Is it fair to levy such a ‘sin tax’ on the poor, where no such tax is imposed on the rich? What about taxing other unhealthy behaviors?

Guests:

Art Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania

Micheal Tanner, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute


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