Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Write Your Reps To Remove Cigarette Smoking Penalties From Affordable Care Act

Cigarette smoking is a disturbing and very disgusting habit that is legal in this country.  My wife smokes, her habit annoys me and has been a sore point in our relationship for years.

For many men and women who have had to give up alcohol, they would tell you that cigarette smoking is one habit that has been the hardest to give up.

However, unlike alcohol and other drugs, a cigarette smoker is less apt to kill an entire family while driving while under the influence of nicotine or miss days of work because he or she is having  a nicotine hangover.

Nicotine addiction is a pre-existing condition that federal, state, and local laws have historically allowed.  But the cigarette smoker and law abiding cigarette smoker is being penalized over and over again for their government sanctioned addiction.  

My wife, and I again am sorry that she does smoke and has tried repeatedly to cut back informed me that under the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) the government will allow insurance companies to penalize the smoker with higher insurance premiums.

"No dear, it is just a scare tactic," I told her.

Well, I was wrong!  

I was stunned---literally---under all the thousands of pages in the program someone or special interet group slipped that legislation into the package. (Insurance companies perhaps!) 

Hate to say it---if you are a poor cigarette smoker or an elderly cigarette smoker who has survived thus far you are about to be severely penalized.  The government goal---end your habit—by hitting your pocket book---very hard! 

The danger---and it is a real danger---perhaps Obama Care will be that dangerous piece of legislation that my conservative friends have warned me that it could become.

If you target one group of Americans engaging in a habit that is legal---what group is next?   Historically, gay men in particular, were targeted for being possible transmitters of HIV and legislation has been fought to fight that piece of discrimination. (HIV is likely to be higher among straight folks who engage in risky behaviors.) 

Those of us who do not maintain an ideal body weight could be next as heart disease and diabetes are the resulting side effects to obesity.

Genetic testing could be next to determine the likelihood of a recessive gene, which could cause birth defects. (A person with a mental or physical disability will add costs to health care.) 

If you drink alcohol then insurance risks will go up because you might become an alcoholic.  Caffeine addiction is a serious issue so coffee drinkers and those who enjoy their highly caffeinated and sugary drinks might be next. 

And boy, I hate to side with the NRA on this issue, health insurance discrimination could be used against a family that owns a gun because there are higher risks of someone getting hurt due to gun ownership and therefore the medical costs will rise.  (Cigarette smokers may have some common ground with the NRA!)

This list could be expanded indefinitely based on the current whims of those legislating laws.

So, and again as a person against cigarette smoking, I am writing to my government reps to get this piece of legislation out of the bill. If law abiding cigarette smokers are penalized (and they are already being taxed at very high rates for their addiction) then other groups of Americans could be next.

Contact your government representative including the White House that this is not just a conservative or progressive issue---it impacts all Americans if it is allowed to remain in the legislation.

I have already begun my letter writing!  For those who need to contact their representatives, please note the contact links to the side of this web page. 

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