Regulating Health

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Regulating Health
Overview: In the absence of a national consensus about health care reform, many cities have taken the lead in providing health care and protecting their residents’ health and welfare. For example, San Francisco provides universal health access for its residents, while New York and Chicago ban unhealthy ingredients, such as trans fat, or unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. What is the government’s role in regulating healthy and unhealthy behavior, especially if the government bears the financial responsibility for health care? It is a fine balance between personal freedom and the government’s responsibility to provide for the health and welfare of the majority of its citizens. Have these local governments gone too far?

Directions: Read the issues below, then circle the statement with which you agree. Then write a supporting detail to support your reasoning.

The Issue: Trans fat, used to fry many common foods such as French fries and donuts, raises cholesterol levels, clogs arteries, and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In 2006, New York City passed legislation requiring all city restaurants to eliminate trans fat by July 2008, creating an uproar in the restaurant industry. Restaurants may still serve fried foods, but they will have to find healthier frying oils if they want to continue to operate in New York City. Has New York City gone too far in trying to legislate people’s diets or is the city government fulfilling its responsibility to protect its residents’ health and welfare?

New York City should ban trans fat:

New York City should not ban trans fat:


The Issue: In 2007, San Francisco began its Healthy San Francisco Plan, designed to provide health care for all San Francisco citizens, including an estimated 82,000 uninsured. Under the plan, all uninsured residents can seek care at the city’s public and private clinics and hospitals. The basic coverage, which is about access to health care rather...
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