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letters | tackling the cost of health care

Elected leaders lag on addressing causes of poor health

Politicians talk a lot about bringing down health care costs, but when they have the opportunity to address the causes of poor health, nothing is done.

In her June 7 Metro column “Sweet deal for soda,” Yvonne Abraham wrote about House Speaker Robert DeLeo squelching an amendment that would have eliminated the sales tax exemption on soda and extended the cigarette excise tax to other tobacco products. Both prongs of this fork would help to make our state healthier. Obesity and cancer are killing us and sucking our wallets dry. Passage should be a no-brainer if we are serious about cutting health care costs.

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Meanwhile, in her June 7 op-ed column “Fuel fight,” Juliette Kayyem addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ban on the military spending money “for the production or sole purchase of an alternative fuel.” The health effects of breathing fossil fuel emissions are well documented. Yes, the initial costs of switching to alternatives would be higher than buying fossil fuels, but the purchasing power of the Pentagon would go a long way toward lowering those prices.

In Massachusetts and Washington, our elected leaders are squandering two golden opportunities to lower the need for and, therefore, the cost of health care.

Richard Jervey

Newburyport

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