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Obamacare Makes Me Hungry

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Opinion: Obamacare Makes Me Hungry

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Supporters of US President Barack Obama's signature healthcare legislation celebrate after the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Healthcare Act, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, June 28, 2012.

When I heard that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the Affordable Care Act, the federal health legislation known as Obamacare, my first thought was of Tommy's.

Tommy's, for those readers not from LA, makes chili burgers and chili dogs that are delicious -- and not good for you. They should be a rare treat, and one I try to avoid, since there is already too much of your blogger, if you know what I mean.

But with the court's ruling, Tommy's suddenly seemed like the perfect place to celebrate. After all, I'll still be able to get health insurance, no matter how unhealthy I am. So why not eat a chili burger? Well, it's mealtime, and so far, I've resisted temptation to drive over to the nearest Tommy's.

Instead, I'm at the office writing this post -- and thinking about how the upholding of Obamacare represents a personal challenge, and a challenge to the state and the country. And that's to make the bill work. Because Obamacare, by itself, won't be enough.

Yes, the bill includes some incentives for people to stay healthy. But we'll need more. Now that we all have to buy health insurance -- putting us all in the same health pool -- we owe it to each other to stay healthy. And yes, you now have a personal stake in nagging unhealthy people you encounter. Hopefully, this won't lead to fights, injuries and increased health care costs.

What better state than California to think of ways to create financial and other incentives for healthy eating? The state has been a leader in many areas of public health. And coming up with new ideas in this area doesn't cost money or require lots of new spending in a broken budget.

It just requires some thinking and will. Call this post a small contribution.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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