Letters to the Editor

Replace the Affordable Care Act with a fat tax

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the smartest person in the world. But reading the articles and columns defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) just leaves me wondering. Why do lemmings continue to march towards the sea while they fall off the cliff?

I haven’t read the legislation so I can’t say I’m in a position to say I’m an authority on the subject. Most people I know with a conscience would agree that it is important for all Americans to have affordable health care. Even fools and idiots should have access to affordable health care. But those words “affordable health care” seem to get in the way of common sense sometimes.

I recently had a conversation with a health care professional who told me, “I don’t get it? If indigents need help, they can’t be refused treatment at an emergency ward. So why must we force people to buy health insurance? Those who need treatment get it. And why do we need another government regulator that costs billions of dollars to govern the health care industry?”

If some estimates are close to being truthful, the ACA will be costly to the rich, the retired, the middle class and the poor (those that are forced to purchase health insurance) and their heirs for years to come. The fool that I am asks me, “Isn’t there a better way?” Certainly, some provisions of the law make some sense such as the acceptance of individuals with preexisting conditions, but at what cost? Wouldn’t it be preferable to repeal the ACA and replace it with a much better, well-thought-out law?

I guess by now you’ve figured out that I’m convinced that the ACA was hastily prepared and passed legislation (none of the representatives and senators apparently had time to digest the thousand-plus pages even with the help of their staff).

My alternative plan, crazy and un-American as it is would be to tax the culprits of one of our biggest health problems. Cigarettes have already been taxed heavily you say? No, I was talking about the high fat, high sodium, high cholesterol, high carbohydrates menu that causes obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes and more. These are the foods that we love so much, grew up eating and devour on a daily basis: hamburgers with triple cheese, pizza, milkshakes and others. Our good old fashioned fast food establishments spread this disease like the black plague and love the profits. Why? Because it tastes good.

Let’s add a tax on hamburgers and french fries and that type of stuff and use that money to pay for health care costs. As long as we’re doing that, let’s increase the insurance premiums for the high risk persons who refuse to save themselves and change their eating habits. I would pay extra for the privilege of maintaining my added belly fat. Let’s also give tax credits to fast food restaurants and the restaurants that would surely spring up to serve low sodium, low fat meals. The third part of my plan would be to require businesses to have three hour a week exercise programs for their employees. Could be as simple as everyone in the company taking a one hour walk at lunch three times a week.

Research shows that physical activity is also good for the brain and makes them more productive. Finally, tort laws need to be revised to prevent outrageous financial settlements in cases where a doctor makes an honest mistake. Only in those cases where a death or lifelong injury occurs should be a factor in a legal financial settlement.

I agree it is a horrible suggestion given our culture and our habits; but it is a darn sight better than the ACA and would make all Americans healthier and make health care more affordable for all for future generations.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.