Save money and lives for only 5 cents a pop

As our state legislators put the final tweaks on what promise to be very ugly budget proposals, it’s worth thinking about the kinds of investments that save money and improve lives.

Legislators should face down the soda pop lobby and add a 5 cent per 12 ounce can of soda. That would raise $277 million dollars for the biennium. Then they should devote $55 million to fight childhood obesity and the other $222 million to resuscitate the Basic Health Plan.

According to a recent national study by the respected Commonwealth Fund and Lewin Group, investing 1 cent per can of pop – that $55 million – into obesity prevention would result in $6 billion worth of savings in total health care costs over 10 years for residents of a state the size of Washington. That’s $600 million a year. Families, businesses, school districts, and state and local governments would all reap part of those savings.

And oh yeah, many of us would enjoy better health and higher quality of life, along with being more productive students and workers.

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