'Just eat it:' Michelle Obama pushes produce - The Packer

'Just eat it:' Michelle Obama pushes produce

11/13/2009 08:45:01 AM
Larry Waterfield

The Senate will have its own bill, and the two will have to be reconciled. The Senate is more cautious, so the final word has not been spoken on health care reform.

Is there anything in the 2,000 page House bill for the fresh produce industry? Maybe, maybe not.

That’s because there is a whole section — Division C, Title III, on “Prevention and Wellness” — that calls for spending $37 billion over 10 years. But there is nothing specific.

Instead, a series of permanent “task forces” will be created to develop a strategy and tactics for “prevention and wellness.”

A Prevention and Wellness Trust will dispense the billions of dollars, based on the recommendations of the task forces. Fully $350 million will be spent just to fund these task forces.  They will issue grants to groups and organizations to promote prevention and wellness.

The bill also establishes “health empowerment zones” to assist groups with health disparities — higher disease rates.

For example, there is an existing program to encourage Native Americans to eat more fresh produce to combat obesity and diabetes.

Theoretically, these new funds could be used to get more fresh produce into underserved inner cities and rural areas.

The Task Force on Community Prevention and Wellness Services will get $17 billion over 10 years to promote better health and prevent diseases.

It would seem logical that some of that money ought to be used to promote a better diet, with more consumption of fresh produce and more access to fresh foods.

All this money and effort will be controlled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, with ultimate authority from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

For proponents of big government the House health bill is a dream come true, with huge new sub-agencies, committees, task forces, programs, mandates, taxes, fees, penalties that will impact every person and will cost $1 trillion.

For champions of smaller or more local government, it is a nightmare — a bureaucratic monster that will micromanage every aspect of health care for doctors, hospitals, patients, employers.

In the meantime, the “task force” ought to take a long look at Michelle Obama’s formulation for better health.

“Don’t whine about the produce. Just eat it.”

E-mail lww4@verizon.net

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