Republican Gov. Rick Snyder recently proposed his “revolutionary plan” to create a healthier state — one that is free of obesity and full of wellness. Snyder aims to grant children better access to healthy foods and exercise, regulate childhood obesity through routine body mass measurements and create an exchange for citizens and businesses to buy health insurance. Snyder also wants Michigan to join the 27 states that provide coverage for autism. In addition to these governmental regulations, Snyder calls upon Michigan’s citizens to take control of their own lifestyles through a new “4×4” fitness program that encourages citizens to make healthier food choices, exercise more frequently and take initiative to visit their doctors regularly.
It’s commendable that Snyder wants to promote health throughout Michigan since obtaining a healthy lifestyle should always be a number one priority for all individuals. Snyder’s decision to provide health coverage for people with autism is also incredibly important; it’s time the government acknowledges the severity of the disorder and does its best to aid those affected. I am finding, however, that Snyder has not thought through the logistics of this new health reform as thoroughly as he should.
For starters, it doesn’t seem plausible that the government alone will be able to afford to implement these drastic changes. So, what does that mean for Michigan citizens? Taxes. While Snyder does call upon federal funding and grants to meet the requirements for his plan, what will the source of that funding boil down to? My best guess is taxpayers. Michigan families will be the ones spending their hard-earned dollars on Snyder’s reforms, but how are low-income families supposed to participate?
This leads me to believe that it’s not the right time for Michigan to begin these numerous health care modifications. Why is Snyder trying to turn obesity around right now? Yes, changes need to start somewhere at some time, but Americans across the country have been struggling with obesity and health care coverage for a long time with no real improvements resulting. Similarly, engaging in Snyder’s plan for an exclusively healthy diet seems to be a leisure of the wealthy, since they are the ones able to afford large supplies of organically grown foods and healthier products on the whole. Low-income families don’t have this luxury, so Snyder’s “4×4” plan isn’t exactly realistic for the entire state.
There certainly are alternative, more affordable measures that the government can implement for promoting healthy living throughout the state. We know exercising is one of the best things you can do for your body, so why doesn’t Snyder focus on organizing campaigns at local schools, events or businesses to relay the importance of engaging in daily exercise? After all, walking or running in the fresh air doesn’t even cost a penny. If individuals of all ages are educated about the benefits of exercise and the difference it makes in creating healthy lifestyles, then everyone wins and economic pressures are put to rest.
First and foremost, however, the local government should place an emphasis on childhood education in general, so children can become intellectually capable of making healthy choices and will have a chance to overcome poverty by securing employment in the future. This will help low-income families overcome poverty. Then the state can focus on these drastic reforms. By first controlling unemployment and poverty, the state will be much better off at actually succeeding in health reform.
If Snyder uses smaller, tactful steps to emphasize the sheer importance of both education and simple exercise, it will go a long way in leveling the economic playing field so that everyone has equal opportunity to participate in turning Michigan into a health-conscious state.
Caroline Syms is an LSA sophomore.