An Israeli ballerina-turned-Mayor of Chicago is now demanding that Windy City workers participate—willingly or not—in a wellness plan. If those on the city payroll refuse to register, they’ll pay $50 a month as a penalty for not choosing what Rahm Emanuel, a big believer in the right to choose, has chosen for them.
Initially, city workers will be lined up for screening like soldiers taking a military conscription exam. If you have asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, you’ll get “wellness training to achieve long-term health goals” whether you want it or not.
How about an implanted oral sensor that detects Newport Lights, traces of Crisco, Oreo DoubleStufs, and Heineken, and then triggers a shock collar that comes in a variety of colors from which the mayor will allow city workers to choose?
In addition to incentives, the mayor’s proposal employs “advisers” who will oversee the “program.” This group of scrutinizers will “monitor progress on a bimonthly basis,” which means, on average, you get 60 days between examinations to relax and keep your PayDay candy bar on your desk rather than in a locked box in a safe hidden under the spare tire (no pun intended) in your car trunk.
Hiring “advisers” proves Rahm Emanuel is a job-creation genius! Bet he’ll even have the wherewithal to hire uniformed officers to do “Paunch Patrol” and “Adipose Analysis.”
Those who successfully stop smoking, “Party Off the Pounds,” and are found sipping wheatgrass juice from their Barack “MADE in the USA” 2012 coffee mug during impromptu visits by advisers “could”—I repeat, “could”—be rewarded by “seeing their healthcare premiums reduced.”
Ever the dedicated Boy Scout, Rahm Emanuel pledges that, like it or not, “We will help you be a good steward for your health.” Such “help” could include mandatory weigh-ins and grocery-bag inspections.
Rahm warned that “if you choose not to [participate], you’ll pay that price and that is the price you’ll have to pay.” Sorry, but that is a teensy-weensy bit scary, even for a person who doesn’t live in Chicago.
Nonetheless, good intentions are likely at the core of Rahm’s “Keep Corpulent Chicago City Workers Well” initiative. Chances are that the city’s pirouetting mayor is only trying to help out. Either that or he enjoys presenting city workers an “offer [they definitely] can’t refuse.”
Let’s hope workout gear is provided gratis, because Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Union Local 1001, is just itching to get physical. Phillips supports the mayor’s effort and maintains that “There’s no penalty for getting sick. But if you choose not to participate, you’re gonna pay $50 more a month and $50 for your wife.” A diabetic, Phillips promised, “It’ll get us in shape. You’re actually making yourself better. In the end, it’s gonna save millions and millions of dollars. If people are healthy, they won’t be going to doctors to get toes or feet amputated.”
Not to worry, though—accidental amputations, such as losing half a finger in a meat-slicing machine, are definitely covered, as are assault-related injuries such as broken kneecaps and loose teeth.
In the future if Americans should go blind or need treatment for kidney failure, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and a team of cost-control analysts will step in to decide whether a city worker in Chicago, and ultimately Obamacare recipients nationwide, will receive lifesaving dialysis or short-term, cost-efficient, end-of-life care.
In the runup to Obamacare, what better venue than Chicago to launch another unofficial pilot program? The government will probably be interested to see if improving Chicagoans’ health against their will or collecting penalty fees—also against their will—can “help cut the annual $500 million bill for healthcare for city employees.” If it does, it can then be translated into a nationwide “Ditch the Cookies and the Camels or Suffer the Financial Consequences” effort.
Hizzoner maintains the program is a “necessary step to getting healthcare costs under control.” If you work for the City of Chicago in the CDOT’s alleys division and happen to need an abortion, it’s likely the mayor will enthusiastically agree to foot the bill; but if you’d rather not spend 45 minutes a day on a stair climber, pay up!
It’s probable that Chicagoans are slowly coming to realize that in Mayor Emanuel’s version of “pro-choice” America, the guy with the foul mouth sporting the occasional leotard gets to do the choosing.
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