In an effort to address Mississippi's obesity epidemic, the Legislature has passed HB 1530 and sent it to Gov. Haley Barbour for his signature.
The bill provides for weight management and treatment through bariatric surgery, among other treatment options for state employees who have attempted and failed to lose weight with other methods including Weight Watchers and the Adkins diet. Up to 100 employees can receive treatment during the first year.
The bill, co-sponsored by House Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, acknowledges a number of "unfavorable health conditions" caused by obesity, including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. It also states that obesity represents "a major economic expense to the state from the high costs of treating the ailments that result from being overweight."
Holland reportedly has shed 81 pounds from his top weight of 325 pounds since he underwent bariatric surgery last June.
"I had congestive heart failure. My cholesterol was at stroke level. I was borderline diabetic. I had sleep apnea, and I had to sleep with oxygen every night," Holland told the Sun Herald. "All of that is gone. I've gone from nine medications to none."
The cost of Holland's surgery, $17,000, will be recouped in a short time just in pharmaceutical savings.
Amazingly foward thinking, for once.