Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: July 3, 2012

Speaking of your health care, the obese should prepare for another government mandate

Given that ObamaCare has been upheld, the following shouldn’t take many people by surprise:

In a move that could significantly expand insurance coverage of weight-loss treatments, a federal health advisory panel on Monday recommended that all obese adults receive intensive counseling in an effort to rein in a growing health crisis in America.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urged doctors to identify patients with a body mass index of 30 or more — currently 1 in 3 Americans — and either provide counseling themselves or refer the patient to a program designed to promote weight loss and improve health prospects.

Under the current healthcare law, Medicare and most private insurers would be required to cover the entire cost of weight-loss services that meet or exceed the task force’s standards.

And, of course, all that will be “free” and cost absolutely nothing because ObamaCare has magically lowered costs in the insurance and health care world.

Read those three sentences carefully.  You can see the coming disaster easily through this fairly simple example.  Government has a solution to obesity.  More government.

First BMI is a crock of crap.  Anyone who has spent a day looking into it knows that.  Yet the government stubbornly holds on to the standard.  I’m 6’ and 188 pounds.  My BMI is 26 which makes me “overweight”.  Sorry, that’s BS.   And if you have any muscle mass at all, you can most likely count on being overweight even if you’re in the best shape of your life.

But BMI is what we’re going to see used to determine who that one-third are, and the bottom two-thirds?  Well they have a role too.  They will be paying for that top one-third’s “intensive weight loss services” for which the law mandates insurers pay.

What are those standards of treatment?

The task force concluded after a review of the medical literature that the most successful programs in improving patients’ health were "intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions." They involve 12 to 26 counseling sessions a year with a physician or community-based program, the panel said.

Successful programs set weight-loss goals, improve knowledge about nutrition, teach patients how to track their eating and set limits, identify barriers to change (such as a scarcity of healthful food choices near home) and strategize on ways to maintain lifestyle changes, the panel found.

The programs set goals?  Anyone who is past the age of 20 and with an IQ above room temperature knows that programs setting goals are useless.  Unless the person for whom the program is setting those goals is willingly and totally committee to change, it won’t work.  Ask any ex-smoker or alcoholic.

But, cynic that I am, I see opportunities here for all sorts of waste, fraud and abuse.  It is found in the phrase “community based programs”.  The new growth industry?  “Intensive, multicomponent” weight loss companies contracted to the government to provide “behavioral interventions” and facilitate weight loss.  Because otherwise, doctors have to do the sessions and we all know that’s going to happen, don’t we?  We;’re so overstocked with them and they have so little to do.

And don’t you just love the phrase “behavioral intervention?”  Sounds … ominous?

Finally, the government is still pushing diet regimes that don’t solve the problem.  Look at the sample menu here on this 1,600 low calorie menu.  Note the carbohydrates and sugars in that menu (sugars aren’t noted, but it has juice and fruit).  If you want to lose weight it is those you must cut out.  Not salt.  Not even fat.  The body converts carbs and sugars to glucose.  And it burns glucose before it burns fat.  If you load up on things that produce glucose and the body doesn’t burn It all, it then stores the rest as fat.  So you want a diet that reduces glucose production and has the body burning stored fat.  That is how you lose weight.  That means removal of grains, bread, potatoes, pasta, etc.  You should also avoid starchy vegetables like corn.

That menu is loaded with them.   Personal experience.  Go low carb and you’ll see weight drop off and quickly (like 7 pounds in a week).  At some point, you can begin to add a few carbs back in when you go to maintenance mode.  There are or may be some initial unpleasant side effects to going low carb, but you get over them fairly quickly.

But government continues to push a “balanced” diet loaded with all the things that actually help make us fat.

If any weight is lost using their plan it will be excruciatingly slow and if you think someone is going to stick with a diet like that I’ve linked for very long, you don’t know human nature.   If you’re going to motivate someone to lose weight, you’d better show them some pretty real and dramatic progress fairly quickly or you’re going to lose their interest in about 2 weeks, a month at the most.  Because here is ground truth about diets:

A common argument that many experts wield against carbohydrate restriction is that all diets fail, the reason being that people just don’t stay on diets. So why bother? But this argument implicitly assumes that all diets work in the same way—we consume fewer calories than we expend—and thus all fail in the same way.

But this isn’t true. If a diet requires that you semi-starve yourself, it will fail, because (1) your body adjusts to the caloric deficit by expending less energy, (2) you get hungry and stay hungry, and (3), a product of both of these, you get depressed, irritable, and chronically tired. Eventually you go back to eating what you always did—or become a binge eater—because you can’t abide semi-starvation and its side effects indefinitely. -Taubes, Gary (2010). Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (p. 209). Random House, Inc.

By the way, that’s a great book and I recommend it highly. 

Anyway, I didn’t mean to wander off into a diet discussion, but it only helps reinforce my point.  Government, as of now, is touting exactly the wrong stuff to fight obesity.  Yet it plans, obviously, on taking the lead, having doctors prescribe the weight loss programs and require unwilling “obese” people to take them.  And all of it will ‘cost less’ – never mind the golden opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse.

Yes, friends, now that the government owns health care, it has a plan for all you fatties out there.   Whether or not you really want to lose weight that’s another choice (freedom) you’ll probably lose.  Mandatory obesity screening and a prescribed program of weight loss coming you’re way whether you want it or not.  And all at a nominal cost, of course.  Because, you know, health care costs have been reduced now that we all have to have insurance or pay a tax.

Welcome to your new world.



Twitter: @McQandO

Economic Statistics for 3 Jul 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Auto sales will be released throughout the day today. First reports are from Chrysler, whose sales rose 20% to 144,811 vehicles. Nissan posted a 28% sales gain, to 92,237 new vehicles. More figures will be released later today.

In retail sales, ICSC-Goldman reports bad weather reduced same-store retail sales to a year-on-year 1.4% increase, though sales rose 0.2% on a weekly basis. Redbook reports weak 2.2% sales growth both on a weekly basis, as well as in the 4-week moving average. Both Redbook and ICSC-Goldman sales results are the worst in a year.

US factory orders rose a better-than-expected 0.7% in May. Ex-transportation, orders were up by 0.4%, reversing 2 months of decline.

Dale Franks
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The tax that isn’t a tax because 75% of it falls on the middle class

If you’re wondering why the administration is so adamant about claiming the health care mandate isn’t a tax, all you have to do is look at this chart:




Even a quick look makes it clear that 75% of the taxes to be paid will be paid by those making $120,000 or less.  That, my friends is a middle class tax increase of epic proportions– something this president promised wouldn’t happen on his watch.

Of course it doesn’t fully kick in until 2016 (it starts in 2014), but let’s be clear, it is going to kick in (thanks to John Roberts).

And, if you’re wondering what that means in terms of money, well, here’s a repeat of the chart of the tax from the list of 20 taxes (of about half a trillion) this monstrosity levies (and don’t forget, it is the amount or the percentage of AGI – whichever is highest):




Yet what do we get from the dopes at the Romney campaign?  Well first they agree it’s not a tax it’s a penalty.  What’s one of the first maxims of politics?  When you’re opponent is self-destructing, shut up and get out of the way?

Yeah, they do neither.

Then what do we hear today?

For an issue that’s supposedly potent against Democrats, Romney’s campaign is declaring a cease fire. This, even as the law polls unfavorably and it proved to be a motivating force for Republicans and disaffected independents in the 2010 midterms.

Now on the one side, I have some sympathy, since the following paragraph touts what I’ve been recommending – don’t get distracted:

It’s becoming clear that Romney has decided to focus on the economy at the expense of everything else, even issues that could play to his political benefit. He’s avoided criticizing the administration’s handling of the botched Fast and Furious operation, even as it threatens to become a serious vulnerability for the president. He’s been silent in responding to Obama’s immigration executive order, not wanting to offend receptive Hispanics or appear like a flip-flopper.

Got it.  But let’s not put blinders on.  The health care tax (and don’t let them get away with calling it  anything else) and Fast and Furious are political gold.  You don’t have to necessarily concentrate on them, but let’s see a little multi-tasking, for heaven sake.  Use them even as the campaign concentrates on the economy. You don’t freakin’ call “cease fires” in politics on issues in which all the rounds are outbound toward your opponent.

This is about broken promises (flip-flopping in some cases – remember when candidate Obama argued against imposing a mandate?) and new taxes.  Two very unpopular issues in politics (oh, and for the Republicans agreeing with the administration that the mandate isn’t a tax – STFU, will you?)

Finally, those two charts are something the Romney campaign should have as a part of just about everything they release.  They disallow dissembling by the administration.  It’s a tax, it’s going to begin to hit in 2014 and it is a tax on the middle class.

Use it often and relentlessly.


Twitter: @McQandO