As Governor Rauner addresses the legislature regarding the FY 2017 Illinois budget, we’re still faced with the current budget impasse that has left Illinois without a budget for more than 8 months. Since state leaders will need to address our growing deficit and put an end to this crisis, we want to make sure the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act is included in the final negotiated budget.
As you know, the HEAL Act is expected to generate more than $600 million a year to support Medicaid and invest in community resources for kids and families to live healthier lives. The revenue comes from a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. This type of proposal is a win-win for the state, supporting the Medicaid program (thus freeing up general funds for education, human services and public safety) and helping to prevent costly diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet. Research shows that consumption of just one sugary drink a day increases risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions. Obesity costs the Illinois healthcare system a staggering $6 billion or more each year, with more than $1 billion of those costs in the Medicaid program. At a time when our deficit is growing exponentially, we must take this opportunity to bring in new revenue while simultaneously investing in prevention to provide long-term healthcare savings.
Thank you for your continued support of the HEAL Act.
Malik S. Nevels, J.D.