The Daily Show‘s Wyatt Cenac experimented with a little investigative journalism last night. Too bad he was so embarrassed by it he had to ham it up with a little too much zaniness. Because Cenac actually did a good job explaining how good bills go to die in the Congress, thanks to lobbying. Specifically, Cenac examined H.R. 3472, which would have reduced insurance payments for individuals who exercise. Inexplicably, the American Heart Association was one of the key groups that helped to kill the bill. The segment was damning enough that the AHA was forced to release a statement today in response.
Last night, The Daily Show featured a segment that portrayed the American Heart Association as working against Bill 3472, which was described as providing incentives through health care premiums for people who exercise. We appreciate the focus the show placed on promoting health in the workplace. In fact, the bill describes health behavior as not smoking, having low blood pressure (within the normal range), a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range, and appropriate cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The AHA is a strong supporter of comprehensive wellness and health promotion programs that address each of these health indicators and we support incentives to participate in these programs. While effective as comedy, the piece was inaccurate in portraying the bill and why we are opposed to this kind of legislation. This bill might open the door for discrimination of people with pre-existing conditions, and also those who are genetically predisposed to these conditions. Most importantly it would restrict access to healthcare to those who need it most and research has shown that this has a negative effect on health.
Once again, we support comprehensive health promotion programs and efforts that move the population toward healthier behaviors. We are also working hard to assure access to affordable, quality health care for all.