Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 13, 2010
POLITICS: The Federal Fat Police
Hey, remember when we conservatives said that if you let the federal government into everybody's healthcare, pretty soon it will stick its peering eyes and groping hands into our personal business?
Welcome to "pretty soon," thanks to Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind.
Kind has introduced a bill that would commandeer your health insurer to report to the federal government the body mass index (BMI) - i.e., height and weight - of your children every year from age 2 to 18:
States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis. The Healthy Choices Act--introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee....amends the Public Health Services Act by stating that health care providers must record the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. "The provision relates to all children in states that accept grants under the bill," a spokesperson for Rep. Kind told CNSNews.com. "....BMI will be taken at times when the child makes an otherwise scheduled doctor’s visit."
Let's leave aside the many methodological problems with BMI as a measurement of obesity (such as the fact that muscular, athletic males are almost always classed as obese). The bill requires federal taxpayers to lay out yet more money to create yet another intrusive apparatus for tracking and storing information that, for example, your 16 year old daughter might regard as rather personal:
To pay for implementing BMI data gathering, Sec. 102 of the bill states that the federal government will give grants to states that meet certain criteria, including having "the capacity to store basic demographic information (including date of birth, gender and geographic area of residence), height, weight, and immunization data for each resident of the state." The grants also will pay for personnel and equipment necessary to measure patients' BMI.
And naturally, any child with a BMI over a specified percentile will be nagged to get government help. Of course, Rep. Kind swears that "any data used to generate a report on the BMI data collected would not include patients' names," but even if the data-security provisions are foolproof in that regard, there's still going to be an awful lot of identifiable information that will be required to be stored in government databases. And passed on to "Congress and other government officials, including the secretaries of education and agriculture," for that matter. The same people who go into shrieking tizzies at the idea of requiring adults to show a valid driver's licenses as proof of citizenship if they get stopped for traffic violations want to create a gigantic database of children's physical proportions. This is, by the way, the same Ron Kind whose GOP opponent in 2006 went after his history of supporting, uh, interesting government studies:
The ad states Kind doesn't have a problem spending money per se, but that "he would just rather spend it on sex." The ad then details-with citations to various NIH grants-legislation Kind is said to have voted for that included funds to:
This, ladies and gentlemen, is government without limits or a sense of personal space. It's Michelle Obama's and Ron Kind's America.
Kind's district is the classic sort of district that has been safe in years past (it went 51% for John Kerry, 58% for Barack Obama), but is rated D+3 by Charlie Cook, which puts it within reach if the GOP wave this fall rises high enough. Voters in Wisconsin's Third District will have to decide if they want Uncle Sam ogling their children and nagging them to put down their cheese and bratwurst.