GENERAL WELFARE? Richard Williams says the federal government has gone overboard with its “Healthy People” initiative.
By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal program has designs on making Americans “Healthy People.” Amid rising obesity rates and a binge of political correctness, the government initiative is getting broader.
Healthy People 2000 — launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — was initially tasked to reduce health disparities among Americans.
By 2010, the mission was expanded to eliminate, not just reduce, health disparities.
Healthy People 2020 is moving the goalposts yet again — “to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities and improve the health of all groups.”
According to the HHS directive, “Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”
“Karl Marx couldn’t have come up with this,” says Richard Williams, vice president for policy research at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Promoting “Civic Participation and Social Cohesion,” the Healthy People program has ventured far beyond its original mission.
“If you try hard enough, and they have, virtually every aspect of society can be related to health, such as quality of housing,” said Williams, a 27-year official at the Food and Drug Administration.
A 2011 document indicated that government grants of up to $10,000 would be available for up to 170 non-profit organizations.
Officials at Healthy People — under the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion — did not respond to questions about the program’s overall budget.
A Healthy People prospectus stated, “We would like to see that there’s some research and some science behind the work.”
“But at the level that we’re funding, we’re not really anticipating research projects coming in.”
Money aside, the scope of Healthy People is both impressive and ambiguous. The 2020 version covers 42 topics with more than 600 “objectives,” encompassing 1,200 undefined “measures.”
Among the overarching objectives is “Environmental Justice: supporting the rights of all people to live in a healthy environment.”
Critics suggest that manipulating market economics — while expanding the federal bureaucracy — lies at the core of the agenda.
“Now we want to make all the world’s wages better. That’s real mission creep,” Williams said.
Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward