Skip to content Skip to navigation

The problem with a Medicaid obesi-fee

April 7, 2011
by Gary Tetz
| Reprints

You’ve heard of a flat fee. Now wacky Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is proposing a fat fee—a $50 penalty on some enrollees in the state’s Medicaid program who don’t follow a physician-supervised weight loss program, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t appear Arizona officials have figured out exactly how to determine who’s obese or is following a wellness plan. For nursing homes, I fear this may mean installing truck-type scales at the entrance to your facility, or chasing residents around with a body fat caliper.

Remember that this comes from the governor who decided to help balance the budget last year by taking Medicaid patients off organ transplant lists. And it turns out she was right, it did save the state money. Those patients are turning out to be far cheaper now that they’re dead.

Brewer is planning to levy the same fee on smokers, and I hope she doesn’t stop there. Why not also penalize those who don’t drink eight glasses of water a day? Or what about the self-destructive renegades who refuse to consume nearly enough daily fiber?

These are good ideas. I think I’ll plan to personally share them with the Arizona governor. Right after I show her my citizenship papers.

Topics

Gary Tetz

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/gary-tetz

Gary Tetz is a long-term care commentator based in Walla Walla, Washington, and is a columnist...