Lance Armstrong Endorses Healthy Kids Plan/Measure 50

From an op ed by Lance Armstorng in Friday's Portland Tribune:

The LiveStrong Challenge is just one way people in and around Portland can join the fight. Adopting better habits – a healthy diet, an exercise plan and regular checkups – while encouraging friends and family to do the same, is the easiest thing people can do to prevent cancer in themselves and the people they care about.

Armstrong also discusses the importance of thoughtful public policy, and Oregon's effort to expand coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured kids:

Supporting local organizations that provide treatment and care, survivorship resources, and innovative research is another step. Fortunately, more and more lawmakers are giving people the power to create change.

Oregon is one state leading the way, with its ballot measure to increase cigarette taxes in support of the Healthy Kids initiative [Measure 50] that would help Oregon children gain access to doctors, medicine and much-needed prevention and treatment services.

The plan also will encourage current smokers to quit, while discouraging potential smokers – most often young people – from ever starting the deadly habit.

Armstrong continues:

Policymakers and policies are only as effective as the citizens they govern; it is up to us to stand up and support laws and regulations that we know will benefit us and our communities.

You have the opportunity to unite with us and help save hundreds of thousands of lives and help improve the lives of those already affected by cancer.

Read the rest here.  Discuss.

  • Paul (unverified)

    Help the kids who need health insurance and stand up against the big money of the big tobacco companies and their campaign to keep people smoking. Vote yes on Measure 50. Don't fall for the lies of RJ Reynolds and the other tobacco companies. They couldn't fool the people of Ohio and Arizona last November despite huge sums spent and some very questionable campaign tactics.

  • Jack (unverified)

    There goes my vote for Measure 50. If only we could tax performance enhancing drugs to pay for health insurance for poor kids. When will politicians stop taxing poor people with these excise taxes that disproportionately effect poor people and raise the general taxes to pay for common goods and services.

  • (Show?)

    Maybe this will help "poor people" quit smoking when it becomes prohibitively exspensive. Part of the money raised will go to stop-smoking programs, and some goes to youth education. Maybe the kids will convince their parents to take a quit class? And maybe these "poor people' who quit will avoid getting cancer etc that they cannot afford to treat. Tell me again what the down side is?

  • (Show?)

    Yeah, Jack, you sound like a guy who was all set to vote for Measure 50 until Lance Armstrong endorsed it.

  • wheels (unverified)

    Jack's got a point. A couple of them, in fact. First off, who is Lance Armstrong to endorse anything beyond dealers and pimps? Second, sin taxes, like all sales taxes, are by their nature regressive. And this one in particular has a greater impact on the poor than the wealthy.

    That said, however, we're still talking about tobacco. Taxes on tobacco still make good public health sense. So I'll be supporting the measure.

    But as absurd as the propaganda coming out of "Big Tobacco" is, I can't help but feel uneasy about the propaganda coming out of Big Healthcare as well, which is arguably bigger, and more evil, than Big Tobacco. The Healthcare industry is the fastest growing industry in America, largely at our expense. Big Healthcare's largess has weighed heavily in the Measure 50 campaign; I fear it may crush us when our new Democratic president tries to implement universal healthcare.

  • alijane (unverified)

    We are all caught between big health care and big government. Health insurance premiums continue to increase as government skims the cream off the top. Children's health insurance is cheap, except when it is run by big government, who takes the least costly from the risk pool and inadvertentley increases the cost to the rest of the insurance risk pool. The more government tries to control cost by adding more children to the government quasi insurance system (state grant funded) the higher private insurance premiums will go.

    Government needs to contract with real private insurance companies for children's policies and stop funding grants to quasi insurance groups like Care Oregon and the many other not real insurance companies.

    Maybe we will see the day when private insurance is only for the very wealthy. The rest of us will be waiting months for a doctor's appointment paid with our taxes increasing and increasing - but isn't it better to have free health insurance for all citizens?

    I think not.

  • (Show?)

    Children's health insurance is cheap, except when it is run by big government, who takes the least costly from the risk pool and inadvertentley increases the cost to the rest of the insurance risk pool.

    It's so funny that you would attribute that strategy to "big government." It's exactly what the private for-profit insurance companies do when choosing adult policyholders, because (unlike government) they have the ability to discriminate on the basis of risk, and in favor of the healthy. With regard to children's coverage we are talking about discriminating on the basis of family income, but in favor of poorer kids.

  • (Show?)

    Taxes on tobacco still make good public health sense.

    Yup. Taxes on tobacco would make good public health sense if you took the money and vaporized it. Spending it on children's health care is a bonus!

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    ”Second, sin taxes, like all sales taxes, are by their nature regressive.”

    Actually sales taxes are the most fair way to distribute the tax burden among the public. Sales taxes penalize consumption, something the individual can control and something we do an excessive amount of in this country.

    The problem with measure 50 is that it writes a tax into the Oregon Constitution. The opposition will hammer this point home to the voters who know that, regardless of the measures merits, the constitution is no place to permanently park a tax measures.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Lance may be an excellent athlete who has overcome his own personal health crisis. As an endurance bike rider he is admired. And what exactly does that have to do w/his ability to tell us about healthcare issues for children in Oregon? Don't get me wrong, I would have the same response had he given an opinion anti measure 50.

    Measure 50 is regressive and places an exponentially increasing cost (healthcare) at the mercy of decreasing tax revenues (tobacco).

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    We are all caught between big health care and big government.

    Sicko made it real clear, we're all caught in the greedy grip of the health care industry's quest for profits. Most innocent of all, so caught, are our kids. I have no regard for those who would callously leave those kids to shift for themselves. And little more regard for those who, being too incompetent to get the way they'd handle caring for these kids on the table, are going to reject Measure 50 just because it wasn't done their way. I say get something put together and in place to care for those kids BEFORE the ballots go out - or stay away from the ballot box. We don't need your kind of incompetence in the mix - we've a big enough mess as it is.

    As for those who think the profit motive serves us well in providing health care, consider what Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele had to say in "Critical Condition: To be sure, the market approach is unbeatable in most segments of the economy. Competition among multiple producers that turn out goods and services leads to innovation, better products, and lower prices. The concept works flawlessly when the commodity is cars, furniture, cereal, doughnuts, computers, clothing, gasoline, or any other consumer item.

    The glaring exception to the theory is health care. The very core principle of the market system, that companies will compete by selling more products to everyone, is actually the last thing the health care system needs. The goal should be to sell less, not more - that is, fewer doctor visits, fewer diagnostic tests, fewer hospitalizations, fewer consultations with specialists, and fewer prescription drugs."

    Now that's not too hard to grasp, is it?

  • alijane (unverified)

    I do not see the expansion of this program being sustainable. The cost of health care is increasing and the revenues from smoking is decreasing.

    I am curious, where will the program get the money to keep it afloat and what tax or fee would you be willing to pay to keep it going? I think too many are counting on tobacco taxes being the sole revenue stream even though tobacco sales have been declining in recent years and will continue to decline. Do we really want everyone to stop smoking?

    Our fair city has recently assessed us a fee on our utility bills to pay for street paving. Will we see a health care fee on our already high insurance premiums or another one on our utility bill to pay for the health care cost as tobacco tax revenue declines? Maybe beer, wine soda pop, fast food? The tax has to land somewhere.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    I do not see the expansion of this program being sustainable.

    It doesn't have to last any longer than it'll take folks to get off their lazy butts and create an health care system designed to secure perfect health for everyone.

  • ws (unverified)

    Relying on nicotine consumption to provide for healthcare just seems like a bad idea all the way around. People don't quit smoking because it gets more expensive, and I suppose it's because nicotine consumption is such a reliable source of income that such a means of health care funding would be considered acceptable.

    To me, Lance seems like a pretty good advocate for a healthy lifestyle even if professional cycling has some issues to work out. After all, instead of riding around in the rain today, he could sitting home on his can, watching football, going through a PBR 12pak and a pak of cigarettes like some other americans do as their lifestyle.

  • (Show?)

    Measure 50 creates a fair and accountable way to expand coverage to more than 100,000 kids. The millions spent by tobacco have been relatively effective in clouding the waters here, but fundamentally it's a pretty straight forward question for voters: Do we want to cover all kids or not?

    Setting our tobacco rates on par with our neighbors to the north will cause some folks to quit smoking (and better yet, to never start in the first place) but the people who seem most upset about this are the tobacco companies looking at reduced profits.

    Just looking at reduced cigarette tax revenues misses the point. First, we'll have a healthier overall population when fewer folks smoke. Second, for every $1 we spend on smoking prevention, taxpayers save as much as $3 in health care costs paid for by all of us. That's smart health care policy, and real savings for taxpayers.

  • jack (unverified)

    "After all, instead of riding around in the rain today, he could sitting home on his can, watching football, going through a PBR 12pak and a pack of cigarettes like some other americans do as their lifestyle."

    But they are drinking and smoking for Oregon children. Without their efforts and addictions, we wouldn't be able to afford to pay for our children's healthcare.
    Despite my sarcasm and dislike of Lance, I will still vote for measure 50. I would rather have the program on the books and force politicians in the future to have to cut it or figure out funding, then figure out another funding source.
    I do have serious problems with our increasing love of excise taxes. We are making money off poor people and addicts, it is as simple as that. That is not tobacco propaganda. We are creating a financial interest in people smoking. That goes with our incrasing financial interest in gambling and alcohol. I doubt very much that the person drinking a glass of Pinot Grigio will feel the effects of an alcohol tax like the guy drinking a pabst. Plus, I have a moral problem with raising a tax on addicts because we don't have the political will to get through are responsible revenue system, or at least get rid of the rainy day fund.
    This is a not a replacement for general taxes. Programs cost money, and the money should come out of a progressive tax system.
    Lastly, sales taxes are regressive. Don't fool yourself, a sales tax or excise tax is not a progressive tax, just as the flat tax is not a progressive tax.

  • alijane (unverified)

    It was the Tax Reform Act of 1982 that deregulated the insurance and health care industry that has brought us to the health care crisis of today. These companies were once closely held and government regulated companies. They are publically traded hot stocks today, CEO's making millions and shareholders smiling. Health care and insurance stocks are doing well and shareholders are happy with their investments. I don't see Congress putting the Genie back in the bottle or investors allowing government to squeeze out the insurance industry.

    There will be a tax here and a tax there on various consumer goods to keep feeding the insurance monster that Congress created with deregulation in 1982 when they thought more could afford insurance and health care and cost would be lowered with competition.

    I won't count on our elected leaders solving the health care crisis any time soon.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    I won't count on our elected leaders solving the health care crisis any time soon.


    That's exactly why it's up to us. The bozo's we've elected, including those currently running for office, are not offering much hope they are going to design a health care system that seeks to secure perfect health for everyone.

    We have to do it, so go to the Archimedes Movement to get working on the problem.

  • (Show?)

    Please remember that every pack of cigs that a person smokes costs taxpayers money. I've heard it estimated somewhere between $5-8 per pack.

    If a person stops smoking (or never stops) because it's gotten to expensive, that's a $5-8 savings per pack. A much larger savings than we're bringing in by taxing cigarettes.

    It also means healthier people - smokers as well as those around them (such as their kids). The list of health problems I have thanks to my mom's smoking includes moderate asthma, inner ear problems, and other respiratory problems. I wish cigarettes had been a lot more expensive when my mom was young - she probably wouldn't have started smoking or would have stopped while she was young.

    And no, a sales tax is not a fair way to distribute taxes. Poor and lower middle class families end up paying a much higher percentage of their income to sales tax than the higher middle income to rich families. It's hard for them to cut down on their spending when they're already only purchasing the necessities - food, toiletries, clothes, cleaning products, etc.

    Those at the higher income levels rarely spend all their money on such products - it is going into stocks, bonds, IRAs, savings accounts, etc. They spend a much smaller portion of their income, which means they pay a much smaller portion of their income in taxes.

    Those at lower income levels can avoid paying the cig taxes by not smoking, drinking, etc. Those are choices, and when you make that choice you know you're paying a penalty, both with your money and your health.

    But it's different with things like toilet paper, shampoo, cleaning products, clothes for their kids, etc. - these are all items that are necessary and would be taxed under a sales tax.

    I lived in a state with sales tax for more than 22 years. I saw how it ate away at my parents' income (who were lower middle class) and my sister (who was low income, often times on food stamps and WIC).

  • alijane (unverified)

    I sorry Jenni, but I do not buy the computer model statistics. What was it they used to say Garbage in, Garbage Out? Smoking can be cited as the cause of death if someone was hit by a car - but was a smoker. Give me a break! I had a doctor client who refused to put smoking as a cause of death on a death certificate if it was not directly related.

    Even if smoking stopped tomorrow, we would still have health care issues, mostly how to pay for the inflation and runaway cost. Hospitals are building and adding services, then advertising like five star hotels for insured patient dollars. The regulatory board for the state must take control. We have a lot of very costly duplicated services at all of the local hospitals. Maybe they could specialize, one or two as trauma hospitals, another for transplants, others for diagnostics and/or recovery for people who cannot return home immediately after an emergency, but do not need the services of a full service hospital. Getting the best value for the health care dollar must start somewhere.

    I have always viewed health care cost as a cost of living, too many people want everything for nothing. They don't want to contribute to their health insurace policy cost at work, they don't want to pay a co-pay when they visit the doctor. The mind set must change. Why do we willingly pay the plumber when the household plumbing go haywire, but we don't want to pay anything when we need to take care of a medical issue for our bodies?

    I don't understand why we do not have to insure our bodies, but we do our cars. A system needs to be set up to allow people to have their insurance premiums withheld via payroll deduction and may a basic no frills insurance policy. Many choose to forego health insurance in favor or comsumer goods. Many small business have been priced out of the market and most of their employees only want health insurance if it is 100% paid by the employer. If it cost them a dime, they don't want it.

    I wish I had the answers, but I don't. It is always intersting to discuss and see others views. This is a pretty civil place, I think I like it.

  • ws (unverified)

    I have a thorough dislike for the consequences of smoking. I'm not sure a computer is really even needed to figure out that every pak of cigarettes smoked costs taxpayers money, considering the mess they make; unhealthy people, trash everywhere, wasted labor producing tobacco crops and on and on. The ill effects of tobacco on everyone in the entire country are kind of inescapable.

    If people can draw money from its use to provide for others health care, as that use gradually declines, I suppose that's o.k. I just don't want to see any health care system built up on smoking revenue disappear if tobacco use should drop to such an extent that revenue from that source is no longer sufficient for that purpose.

    I think the suggestion that people don't want to pay for their health care is not accurate. I believe most people actually do enjoy providing for themselves in terms of food, shelter, education, and healthcare, if it is in fact possible for them to afford doing so without going into hock for years and decades to pay for even such fairly simple treatments as broken limb repair and hernia operations. Think of how many people could not even afford $50 a month for health insurance. Actually, it's even more, right? You can probably tell from that question that I don't have it.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    I don't understand why we do not have to insure our bodies, but we do our cars.

    Cars are optional, try sticking around for very long without your body - you'll get the idea.

    I think the suggestion that people don't want to pay for their health care is not accurate.

    We pay the most per capita than any other country, and we rank 38th in quality of health - some folks would say that's a pretty good definition of stupid.

  • alijane (unverified)

    Good comments. Anyone else concerned about and Enron style meltdown of the health care industry? The more the premiums rise the higher people must raise their deductible to afford health insurance. The higher premiums rise, the more small and mid-size companies drop insurance for their employees., yet we see CEO's getting millions in pay and bonuses and non profits with huge CEO salaries as well and always supporting more and more taxes on the working class. We pay and pay but we get little in return in my opinion.

    My health insurance went up another two hundred dollars, I had to increase my deductible to $2,500.00 to keep the premiums close to what I have been paying. Will we all end up with only major medical?

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)

    Anyone else concerned about and Enron style meltdown of the health care industry?

    Those who are might enjoy SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION: ENRON AND ITS IMPLICATIONS by Dave Bella - an unique offering of a way to look at matters like these.

in the news 2007

connect with blueoregon