I have been fighting for four years to eliminate this horribly regressive grocery tax on the citizens of Idaho. Let me start off by saying that none of the members of this committee look malnourished, but there are many people in Idaho who are, and it may not be just because of the grocery tax, however it does play a part.
The grocery tax is one of the most regressive taxes you can put on lower wage earner families because they spend a higher proportional amount of their income on food than those in the higher income brackets. People who eat a poor diet wind up costing the state more because if you have less to spend you tend to make bad choices when it comes to nutrition. If you are undernourished, chances are that you will tend to be sick more and in many cases contract chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity or even autoimmune diseases like Leaky gut, MS or Lupus.
Think about this for a minute, we have 20% of Idaho’s population current on Medicaid or looking to go on Medicaid expansion. Why aren’t we fighting to keep these people healthy instead of paying the medical bills when they get sick from not eating properly? We spend over $2 billion on Medicaid each year to tend to people’s illnesses, yet we don’t do anything to make our doctors accountable for the results of those medical treatments, nor do we have a way to compel Medicaid recipients to be responsible for staying healthy.
It has been proven time and time again that Nutrition is one of the simplest ways to achieve healthy outcomes, yet we tax the one way that those in the lower income brackets can regain their health by eating properly. These are the same people who fall into the Medicaid coverage. Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to educate them to eat a healthier diet and make it cheaper for them to achieve that goal by getting rid of the extra cost of a grocery tax?
Why don’t we take some of that $2 billion in Medicaid money and spend some of it to educate people that nutrition is the most important medicine they can have to stay well. I try to impress on people for one hour every week on the Healthy Conclusions radio broadcast how important nutrition is to their well-being. We do this as a public service and have nutrition professionals explain how important it is to eat healthier. My question is what are you doing to fix the problem?
You must all understand that people can’t wait until the end of the year to file for their grocery tax refund. They need to buy food their families need now. You were all elected to be part of the solution not part of the problem. One way you can show that your part of the solution is to eliminate this regressive tax on groceries and show the working families of Idaho your concern for their welfare.