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Arizona Wants to Punish Bad Health Habits

Budget-strapped Arizona is looking for new ways to pinch pennies. Now the state’s Medicaid agency is proposing to smack smokers and diabetes patients who ignore doctors’ orders with special $50 annual fees. –JCL

The New York Times:

Arizona’s Medicaid program, criticized last year when it halted some organ transplants to save money, has come up with another cost-saving measure that has people talking.

Following the lead of some private health plans, which charge premiums to members who smoke or engage in other unhealthy behavior, Arizona’s Health Care Cost Containment System has proposed charging smokers $50 a year and applying a similar fee to diabetes patients who do not follow their doctor’s orders to lose weight, said Monica Coury, a spokeswoman for the state Medicaid agency.

“This is an annual fee that says to consumers, ‘Hey, we’re not going to prevent you from smoking, but you have to put a little bit more into the system because it costs us more,’ ” Ms. Coury said, citing a 2006 survey that showed that 46 percent of the patients in the state’s Medicaid program were smokers.

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