House Republicans Try To Cut Prevention Programs That Would Benefit Their Constituents

Posted on  

"House Republicans Try To Cut Prevention Programs That Would Benefit Their Constituents"

In an attempt to win back some ground on the student loan battle, Republicans have proposed legislation which would keep the interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford Loans at 3.4 percent. However, they would pay for it by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Fund is designed to support states and communities in fighting chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes – a plan Republicans used to support.

Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a list of projects paid for by the law’s prevention program, slamming it as a “slush fund” and touting their votes to repeal it. But an analysis of national health care data shows that states represented by Republican members of the committee suffer from disproportionately high obesity and smoking rates and stand to benefit from additional investment in prevention. For instance, 14 of the states represented by a Republican are home to residents who smoke at rates at or above the national average (which stands at 19.3 percent), while eight have an obesity rate above 30 percent (national average is 35.7 percent):

State Obesity Rate (%) Smoking Rate (%)
California 24.0 12.9
Colorado 21.0 17.1
Florida 26.6 17.1
Georgia 29.6 17.7
Illinois 28.2 18.6
Kansas 29.4 17.8
Kentucky 31.3 25.5
Louisiana 31.0 22.1
Michigan 30.9 19.6
Mississippi 34.0 23.3
Nebraska 26.9 16.7
New Hampshire 25.0 15.8
New Jersey 23.8 17.9
North Carolina 27.8 20.3
Ohio 29.2 20.3
Oklahoma 30.4 25.5
Oregon 26.8 17.9
Pennsylvania 28.6 20.2
Tennessee 30.8 22.0
Texas 31.0 17.9
Virginia 26.0 19.0
Washington 25.5 14.6
West Virginia 32.5 25.6

As the committee’s own press release noted, several grants have been made to encourage Americans to engage in more physical activity, like biking, walking or “urban gardening,” which is designed to increase access to affordable fresh food. Others have been used to push for higher cigarette tax rates or a moratorium on fast food construction. As the data shows, obesity and smoking are at epidemic levels in these states; the programs the committee scoffed at could actually do a lot of good by bringing those rates down and lowering health care costs.

The White House has promised to veto the bill should it pass both houses of Congress, which is considered unlikely.

-Zachary Bernstein

« »

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.