A fat waste of money

Tax-funded gastric bypasses? No. Ryberg's approach is better

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Obesity costs are playing havoc with the state budget, so what does South Carolina do? Find ways to encourage and reward healthy living?

Nope. It's going to give obese state employees more benefits.

Wow.

The legislature, in its infinite wisdom, decided to fund gastric bypass surgeries for the first 100 overweight state employees who ask for them starting in January.

This, at a time when state budgets are already being choked by health-care costs.

Officials say they hope the surgeries end up saving the state through decreased obsesity-related maladies in the future. But as Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom said, "as an accountant, you can't measure hope."

Aiken Sen. Greg Ryberg's approach makes a heck of a lot more sense. This past year he suggested charging obese state employees $25 more a month in their health-care premiums, similar to smokers. Having had that idea shot down, he plans next year to propose discounted premiums for healthier employees.

Under Ryberg's proposal, responsible behavior would be rewarded. Under the current plan, irresponsible behavior is.

Then again, it's not the lawmakers' money they're experimenting with. It's yours. That makes it easier.

But as outrageous as the obesity surgeries are, at nearly $25,000 a pop, the most offensive part of the state's actions on health care was its decision to use $19 million of your tax money to fully cover state employees' increased premiums due to the new federal health care law -- in order to keep state employees' premiums the same. And to pay for surgery for state employees who've eaten too much.

Again, they're using the private sector's money to do that.

You remember that when your company's health-care premiums for next year are announced this fall -- and they've gone up by as much as $2,000 for your family, while your tax dollars will also be covering the increase for state employees. In effect, you'll be paying double.

That's a lot of meals!

Comments (26)

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sjgraci
2
Points
sjgraci 08/24/10 - 02:01 am
0
0

This is how shortsighted and

This is how shortsighted and stupid the chronicle is. They completely overlook preventative measures and instead focus on the sensational. Gastric bypass may be controversial with some but most importantly it saves lives and prevents further costly complications associated with obesity like diabetes. How much do you think it costs to amputate the legs of overweight government employees with diabetes chronicle?

GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 08/24/10 - 03:09 am
0
0

I believe the point of this

I believe the point of this editorial is not really about funding surgery for obese government employees in South Carolina.

No, the AC folks used this "obesity" faux pas as an excuse to stir the rancor of those that oppose the recent health care law by including the following, "the most offensive part of the state's actions on health care was its decision to use $19 million of your tax money to fully cover state employees' increased premiums due to the new federal health care law" Sneaky, sneaky radical conservative journalism at is typical of the blather that pours from the pens of the AC editorial staff.

GGpap

GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 08/24/10 - 03:24 am
0
0

Concerning Sen. Ryberg's

Concerning Sen. Ryberg's possible proposal: The idea of discounting premiums for healthy workers sounds good, but insurance premiums are set by insurance carriers and as such, insurance premiums must be paid in full.

Will the state use taxpayer dollars in order to make up the shortfall in premium payments that will be created by "giving" healthy employees a $25.00 discount on their premiums?

GGpap

GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 08/24/10 - 03:25 am
0
0

Examples of moronic

Examples of moronic legislative leadership in South Carolina appear to be never-ending. The sad part is in the fact that the voting history of the citizens of South Carolina is also a record of never-ending ignorance.

GGpap

Riverman1
70696
Points
Riverman1 08/24/10 - 05:08 am
0
0

Nowhere does the divide show

Nowhere does the divide show more than in this editorial and the first comments. Conservatives believe in paying their own way; liberals believe in using other people's money. It's obvious one of us is wrong.

NewHere
0
Points
NewHere 08/24/10 - 05:13 am
0
0

Tax and spend republicants!

Tax and spend republicants!

NotReallyGA
0
Points
NotReallyGA 08/24/10 - 06:58 am
0
0

Obama is the cause of obesity

Obama is the cause of obesity in the US, before he became president this was not a problem.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 08/24/10 - 07:26 am
0
0

I wonder if they charge old

I wonder if they charge old Hussein extra for health coverage since he smokes a couple of packs a day?

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 08/24/10 - 07:30 am
0
0

I'll be so glad when we get a

I'll be so glad when we get a big flush in D.C. and America can begin to heal from the socialist wound forced on us. This huge increase in state employee "benefits" will be reflected in the increased taxes paid.

Rhetor
862
Points
Rhetor 08/24/10 - 07:30 am
0
0

True, AC, the accountants

True, AC, the accountants can't measure hope. Fortunately, however, accountants don't run the world. I value what they do, but they are prepared to count things, not to make policy.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 08/24/10 - 07:46 am
0
0

Why stop there? Charge extra

Why stop there? Charge extra if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, migarines, why the list could be endless. Keep tacking on $25 for each until no one could afford the insurance, that woud save the state bundles. Better yet, why not just charge them to park? That sounds like an idea Billy could support.

justthefacts
17996
Points
justthefacts 08/24/10 - 07:56 am
0
0

Who could argue with any

Who could argue with any incentives that would encourage people to act more responsibly? Liberals.

Rhetor
862
Points
Rhetor 08/24/10 - 07:59 am
0
0

Well, actually, South

Well, actually, South Carolina charges a premium to state workers under the health insurance plan who smoke. I support this because their decision to smoke increases their health costs.

Rhetor
862
Points
Rhetor 08/24/10 - 08:05 am
0
0

Of course, it's not

Of course, it's not either/or. The states can and should offer incentives to people to exercise; cafeterias in government workplaces could offer healthier menus, etc. This does not rule out paying gastric bypass. BTW, responsible doctors don't perform the bypass unless diet and exercise have repeatedly failed to produce results. The procedure is a very big deal: it is risky, and it changes your digestive system in ways that affect your life in many ways forever.

southernguy08
415
Points
southernguy08 08/24/10 - 08:06 am
0
0

Politicians wasting money?

Unpublished

Politicians wasting money? No...say it ain't so! Maybe we need to do what Nancy Pelosi has done in congress and "drain the swamp." Wait a minute...never mind.

grouse
1586
Points
grouse 08/24/10 - 09:00 am
0
0

While not arguing the the

Unpublished

While not arguing the the situation, isn't South Carolina under Republican rule in both the House and Senate, as well as having a Republican governor?

dashiel
175
Points
dashiel 08/24/10 - 09:36 am
0
0

My heart goes out to that

My heart goes out to that 101st state employee who misses the cut. If only he hadn't supersized that last double-cheeseburger combo meal...

Has anybody checked on Betty Beard lately? Sounds suspiciously like she might be moonlighting on an advisory board across the river.

dcreader
0
Points
dcreader 08/24/10 - 10:17 am
0
0

This is odd. The Safeway

This is odd. The Safeway grocery chain encourages employees -- obese and otherwise -- to exercise and eat more healthily, and it's not the only one. Why wouldn't SC do the same thing? Offer incentives (reduced gym memberships, lower healthcare premiums if certain goals are met, etc), rather than drastic measures like gastric bypass or punitive measures like penalties?

I get it with smokers (being a former smoker myself). That's a choice, and you can make the choice to quit. My company offered incentives (subsidized nicotine patches, etc) to help me quit and rewarded me for it. Obesity seems a bit more complicated, but it could be approached the same way, as Safeway seems to have done with great success.

Chillen
16
Points
Chillen 08/24/10 - 10:36 am
0
0

Government has been rewarding

Government has been rewarding bad behavior and punishing good behavior for years. This is no surprise.

Examples of government rewarding bad behavior/poor choices:
*Welfare
*Food Stamps
*Medicaid
*Public Housing
*Earned income tax credit
*Anchor baby program

Examples of Govt punishing good behavior
*Higher tax brackets for the successful
*Increasing taxes on only the successful
*Marriage penalty tax
*Demonizing the successful

They are training people to fail. Rewarding failure in this nation will be our demise.

dani
12
Points
dani 08/24/10 - 10:48 am
0
0

Chillen, I agree,

Chillen, I agree, but....

Rewarding of poor choices =Democrat votes.

dashiel
175
Points
dashiel 08/24/10 - 01:04 pm
0
0

As another poster so

As another poster so memorably said: Listen for the pop when you pull it out!

TheFederalist
0
Points
TheFederalist 08/24/10 - 01:23 pm
0
0

Great column ACES! How is

Great column ACES! How is this any different from providing Viagra for the teachers? There are hundreds of examples of our tax dollars going down the proverbial rabbit hole. I learned only today that our tax dollars, even now, are being spent to rebuild/refurbish 26 mosques around the Arab countries, as a gesture of good will? So much for that anti-Christian canard about separation of church and state eh? Oh, let's not even mention the taxpayer funded good will trip by the ground zero mosque imam! When will we ever learn that you simply cannot buy good will? Especially when our economy is in shambles and we are dead broke? We better wake up fast and instead of further funding the unions and bailing out and rewarding those that doom their companies to failure, we need to pay down the deficit, tighten our belts, stop the insane spending and learn to do with a lot less.

Big Boss
0
Points
Big Boss 08/24/10 - 02:12 pm
0
0

We should just save the money

We should just save the money and buy all these fat state employees a treadmill and a case of Slim Fast.

It would be a much cheaper alternative to gastric bypass, and maybe it would encourage them to get off their butts and exercise once in a while.

airbud7
1
Points
airbud7 08/24/10 - 03:46 pm
0
0

It ain't over 'til the fat

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings

3g
0
Points
3g 08/24/10 - 04:28 pm
0
0

Leave it to the ACES to take

Leave it to the ACES to take a good storyline ( obesity prevention ) and spin it into a political hatefest ( HC Law ) - yes this would be a waste of money ( gastric bypass ) when proper diet CURES ANYTHING !
Dcreader - on the same page w/you - 25 year ex-smoker , but I stopped using EasyWay by Allen Carr - nicotine addiction is the most sinister trap corporations designed along with sugar addiction , flour addiction , meat addiction and Rx/otc drug addiction , 8 years since I've done any of that . Get these employees to use their brain and body properly , no need for surgery EVER !!!!

just a comment or two
0
Points
just a comment or two 08/24/10 - 10:22 pm
0
0

Calories burned greater than

Calories burned greater than calories consumed is the cheapest formula for weight loss. We are a lazy society with our technologies and easy lives. Put recess and daily PE back in schools. Pay for YMCA memberships or gyms for state employees. Excessively tax unhealthy foods, food chains, and entertainment companies that are lulling us to death. Gastric bypass? - drastic and only works for folks having the right personality traits to follow the disciplined, rigid diet plan post-operatively. It works for a few. It's America, the greatest country in the world, where unfortunately a dollar motivates behaviors. Tie $$$ penalties to poor health decisions and watch us all turn skinny.

gijoe7898
0
Points
gijoe7898 08/26/10 - 02:14 am
0
0

3g, you said it perfectly but

3g, you said it perfectly but meant it ignorantly. how did you figure a storyline of "obesity prevention"? it is a political issue because it involves state employees and public tax dollars. what part of the story did you not understand? what part of personal responsibility do you not comphrehend or were not taught by your parents?

govt employees continue to get annual raises and better subsidized health care than the general public. unions make it nearly impossible to fire an employee. they can retire earlier than non-govt employees and enjoy a tax payer funded pension. and now SC taxpayers need to fund a $25,000 operation, plus pay the employee salary during recovery. times are tight. changes need to be made. we in the public sector continue to suck it up while public employees keep getting raises, paid vacation, increased health care benefits and pensions. AND WE PAY THE BILL.

whether rinos or liberals voted this in, it's wrong. i'll be calling Rep. Shane Massey in the morning to voice my displeasure. you, 3g, reread the article, understand it is a waste of taxpayer money and slap yourself 3 times.

Summerjade
20
Points
Summerjade 09/06/10 - 02:45 pm
0
0

I had the surgery. This was

I had the surgery. This was after much prayer and thought, and many years of consistent activities to lose weight on virtually every program available and every support mechanism available through home and community. The reality is that many weight loss problems are hormonal in nature. I was never full and always hungry. I felt guilty about it, out of control, out of step with my body's true needs and in opposition with God over the way I cared for His gift of life and the temple which is my body. Surgery was a last resort and I approached it with trepidation and much reflection. But after surgery, the constant aching hunger disappeared. It was shut off, as if it didn't exist, and remains largely so to this day. After that occurred, that's when I stopped beating myself up and feeling that I was a disappointment to myself, my family and to God. I lost a lot of weight, and have been able to maintain it with no complications and have discovered energy, grace and peace that was missing for a very long time in my life. I look at the surgery as a blessing from God; I now have time and energy to devote to my family that was lost in the pain and shame of my previous life. Even now I work at it every day in terms of diet, exercise, vitamin consumption and attitude. You deniers and haters can say all you will about my personal lack of willpower or faith, but my firm opinion is that this was the path that God offered to me and I am eternally thankful for it. Don't be so harsh to judge us and don't be so quick to say that your "choice" should be the only one is "honest". We all have our own path (personal journey) and only God speaks to us individually to tell us which way He wants us to go.
If you insist on applying your own prejudices to my message and feel that this is posted out of guilt, shame or defensiveness, so be it, but you're wrong and there's nothing I can do to change your opinion. Be assured, I'm laughing at your attitude as I head to the gym, munching on fresh carrots and praising God all the way :)

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