What we're reading, June 9, 2016: Philadelphia is poised to become the first major city to pass a soda tax; California raises its smoking age to 21; and the Obama administration looks to limit short-term health plans.
Next week, Philadelphia is expected to pass a measure that imposes a tax of 1.5 cents for every ounce that includes sugar or artificial sweeteners. The city is about to become the first major city and only the second Americans city to tax sugary drinks, and it got to this point because it framed the tax as a new source of revenue instead of as a public health good, reported The New York Times in blog post for The Upshot. The tax rate will come out to about 30 cents for a 20-ounce drink or $2.15 for a 12-pack, which is considerably higher than the rate passed in Berkley, California, the only other American city with a tax on sugary drinks.
California has raised its smoking age to 21, making it the second state to do so. According to Vox, the law will save lives and reduce costs to the healthcare system. The law prevents anyone under the age of 21 from buying cigarettes and other tobacco products. A previous analysis has found that raising the smoking age to 21 could decrease use of tobacco by 12% by the time today’s teenagers become adults.
The Obama administration is looking to limit short-term health plans that are popular among healthier customers. The proposed rule, which limits coverage to less than 3 months and prohibits a renewal, is designed to nudge healthier customers into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans sold on the health insurance exchanges, according to CNBC. Moving these customers into the ACA exchange pool could help balance out the less healthy customers and keep premium increases lower. However, these individuals could choose to stay uninsured.