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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A bill of health

Senator Tom Harkin was recently quoted in a New York Times article saying, "We don't have a health care system in America. We have a sick care system. If you get sick, you get care. But precious little is spent to keep people healthy in the first place."

To address this, the new health care law has numerous provisions that aim to keep citizens healthy and avoid going to the doctor. There is an emphasis on preventive care and according to the Times,

Under the law, insurers must provide coverage for all services recommended by an independent panel of experts, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, and cannot impose "any cost-sharing requirements."

This emphasis on preventive care will hopefully prevent for chronic diseases and improve. According to Dr. Seffrin,"When people have insurance, they are much more likely to receive screenings and treatment. And they are more likely to seek screenings when they do not have to pay co-payments or deductibles."

The law forbids insurance companies from imposing "cost-sharing" measures on this preventive care.           

The bill also attempts to target obesity. For instance, to help combat obesity in America, all restaurants with 20 or more stores or establishments will have to list the calories of all food items on the menu. According to Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a similar statute in New York City has yield positive results. According to the Times

...consumers appeared to be choosing lower-calorie foods as a result of calorie-posting laws and regulations adopted in New York City and several other places. Equally important, she said, some restaurants have changed their menu offerings, shrinking portion sizes, reducing the fat in pastries or substituting low-fat milk for cream.

In addition, there are provisions to allow working mothers to breast feed at work, more funding for nutrition programs, and other programs to stop the cycle of obesity in America.

All of these provisions aim to reduce the chance for major medical problems before they even start in the hopes to create a healthier America.