Chris Stansbury: Affordable Care Act not the answer here
AS the contentious debate over health care and coverage rages in Washington, it is important for us in the Mountain State to steer away from pure political rhetoric and instead talk about — and tackle — real solutions.
While President Obama looks to growing the size and cost of government to allegedly improve health care, West Virginia needs a smarter and homegrown approach to improve the health of our families and residents.
However, many may not recognize, or are simply ignoring, the real crisis we are facing in our communities and across our state. Unfortunately, West Virginia has become known for many things when it comes to health care — several of them are bad.
Today, our state leads the nation in obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and tobacco use. The only good news about being one of the unhealthiest states in the nation is that we can only go up from here. For the welfare of West Virginia families and future generations, we must make a health care turnaround an immediate priority.
A local optometrist at WV Eye, I have the privilege to literally be face-to-face with the eye and health insurance crisis in our state every day. My front row seat affords me the opportunity to work tirelessly to help West Virginians improve their eye, and often overall physical, health. In this role, I recognize that more government is not the answer. So what is?
First, it is educating our parents and children that a well-balanced diet is a must for a healthy life. Children learn food behaviors from parents. If mom and dad aren't eating balanced meals, it is likely their children are not eating correctly either.
As a state, let's implement marketing and education campaigns to encourage healthy eating habits into the daily lives of West Virginians.
Children also learn food behaviors in school. Let's ensure we are serving healthy foods in our cafeterias and are teaching proper nutrition in our classrooms.
Next, physical fitness is an essential element of a healthy life. Just like diet, many children learn fitness behaviors at home. As a state, let's educate parents on why it is important to set the right example for their kids by exercising on a regular basis.
Physical education is an important part of school time too. Let's implement regular exercise into recess time while encouraging sports participation and outdoor activities at all grade levels.
Finally, environmental factors must be addressed to ensure accessibility to a healthy lifestyle. Let's make sure that our communities have sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and green spaces to promote outdoor activities that are safe and fun for families.
Let's educate citizens on tobacco cessation programs while making sure they are accessible and affordable. Let's encourage home and community gardens so our citizens can grow their own produce, increase self-reliance and promote natural food intake.
Lastly, we must fight drug abuse and crime with every available option to make our streets safer.
President Obama and his allies in Washington want to mandate citizens and businesses to purchase or provide private health insurance — falsely believing a mere insurance policy will improve health.
In the process, they may well cripple our already struggling economy with over $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade, leading to job loss and a move toward more part-time employment. This hardly sounds like a sensible solution that will benefit West Virginians.
Together, we can implement West Virginia solutions toward a healthier state that will lead to a safer environment for our children and help grow our state's economy for the long haul. We can be victorious with the right legislative action and partnership with our citizens — smart solutions that will not grow government or increase taxes.
Let's make West Virginia the comeback state, and show the rest of the country we have what it takes to address and overcome our lifestyle and chronic disease issues that have been holding us back.
Stansbury is an optometrist at WV Eye and a 2014 Republican candidate for District 35 of the W. Va. House of Delegates.