These aren't just a way to save on health care; they're a way to extend and expand the cultural hegemony of wealthy white elites. No, seriously. Living a fit, active life is correlated with being healthier. But then, as an economist recently pointed out to me, so is being religious, being married, and living in a small town; how come we don't have any programs to promote these "healthy lifestyles"?
No. Seriously: Health reform is not about using the muscle of government to control "lifestyle." If this were Obama's modus operandi, he wouldn't have appointed a secretary of agriculture from Iowa, Tom Vilsack , who reflexively defends Big Corn, aka The Industry That Fattens Us. Rather, health reform is -- or should be -- about the simple unjustness of a system in which health care costs are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy, and in which some parents can afford to enroll their child in an experimental drug test to control seizures, and some parents can't.
If big Pharma and private insurers lose a marginal amount of their profit margin due to reform, it won't be the death knell of medical innovation in America. After all, government can -- and does -- fund important medical research, and could do even more, as our own Dean Baker has persuasively argued.
It seems that people oppose reform because they oppose taxing the rich to pay for it. And because they are okay with vast inequality, as long as the folks at the top have maximum medical "choice." It's too bad we keep talking about "bending the curve." Because really, the health reform debate is far simpler than all that.