Call it the growing chattelization of the beneficiary class under government health-care programs. Bloombergism is a secular trend. Los Angeles has sought to ban new fast-food shops in neighborhoods disproportionately populated by Medicaid recipients, Utah to increase Medicaid copays for smokers, Arizona to impose a special tax on Medicaid recipients who smoke or are overweight. New York itself, with private money, some of it from Mr. Bloomberg’s own pocket, has also tried the carrot approach, dangling direct payments to encourage beneficiary families to adopt healthier habits.
So perhaps the famous “broccoli” hypothetical during the Supreme Court ObamaCare debate was not so fanciful after all. It flows naturally from the state’s fiscal responsibility for your health that it will try to regulate your behavior, even mandating vegetable consumption.
As we never tire of pointing out, the unlikely roots are found in the 1998 tobacco settlement. Those cases weren’t filed on behalf of smokers, whom courts ruled repeatedly accepted the risks of smoking. Under an even more ancient principle, known as subrogation, courts long held that if a customer doesn’t have a case against a product that injured him, his insurer doesn’t have a case either.
In 1994, Florida legislators bulldozed these principles so the state Medicaid agency could sue cigarette makers for the cost of treating sick smokers.