August 18th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

South Carolina to spend $2.4 million on weight loss surgeries for state workers

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

South Carolina is about to spend $2.4 million to pay for 100 obese state employees to have weight loss surgery.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/18/art.sc.jpg caption=""]
The state has approved a pilot program, which would put the money toward gastric bypass and lap-band surgeries. They can cost up to $24,000 each.

The state health plan will monitor these state workers - chosen first come, first serve - for 18 months to see if the plan is worth it.

The idea is South Carolina will save money in the long run by paying for these surgeries upfront. If these fat people will lose a lot of weight after the surgeries, it should alleviate other health issues often related to obesity - like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and sleep apnea. That in turn would hopefully drive down health care costs, prescription costs, etc.

Critics say special interest groups won out here over taxpayers. They suggest this money would be better spent elsewhere, considering the state is furloughing workers.

But one South Carolina surgeon says several other southeastern states - including North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia - cover weight loss surgeries for state workers.

He says in the long run, the state will save "a boatload of money."

They better hope so. You should pardon the expression, but in South Carolina obesity is huge. Nearly 63 percent of adults and 34 percent of children are overweight or obese; both those numbers are above the national averages.

Here’s my question to you: Is it a good idea for South Carolina to spend $2.4 million on weight loss surgeries for state workers?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

W. in South Carolina writes:
As a South Carolina native, I have seen and lived the South Carolina diets. Fortunately, I never thought of Mountain Dew as a food group. Perhaps they should outlaw potato chips, soft drinks, tobacco products, and alcohol for state employees instead of spending money on surgery for a temporary solution. I love my home state and all of the people, but I promise a large majority of state workers are among the U.S.'s most unhealthy and laziest.

Anna in Greensboro, North Carolina writes:
Speaking from personal experience here. I had weight-loss surgery almost 2 years ago. I'm a healthy 34-year-old female. After struggling with my weight my whole life, taking every drug that has come out, been on every doctor approved plan out there and every crank diet, surgery was my best option. I wasn't super-morbidly obese and I was very active but I was still 280. I now weigh in at 145. I had severe acid reflux which is now gone. I had back problems that required physical therapy. Also now resolved. My asthma and migraines have both improved with the weight loss. I go to the doctor twice a year now for physicals whereas before it was once a month. I take one medication a day instead of four. Heck yes it's going to save the state money.

Pat in Michigan writes:
No. Spend that money on lunch programs for the poor kids in school. Tell the state workers to walk to work.

Jerry in Florida writes:
Just give them an option: lose weight or look for another job. You're causing our insurance rates to go out the roof.

Ronda in Canastota, New York writes:
It would be better if South Carolina spent a lot less than $2.4 million on educating its state workers to put down that fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, and instead pick up a veggie salad and some low-fat yogurt. And it wouldn't hurt if they took brisk walks on their breaks and lunch hours. That's how I lost almost 60 pounds when I was a New York state worker. I bet it'll work in South Carolina too.

Phil in Florida writes:
Why not? They pay for the governor's trips to South America.

Filed under: Obesity • On Jack's radar
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. Jayne

    If it ultimately results in lower health care costs to the state, it's probably a good idea. Without it, the state will probably be on the hook for life long treatment of diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related diseases.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  2. Greg M.

    Why is it that state workers have full insurance coverage,including what is deemed as "elective" surgery,while everyone in the public sector has to deal with huge bills from what the insurance companies pick and choose to pay all or very little for when someone has "medically necessary" surgery?If these state employees had obesity run in their family wouldn't that be a "pre-existing" condition and be voided by insurance companies?
    Greg M. Largo,FL

    August 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    No......that is a waste of tax payer money, but then, so is heath insurance costs driven by weight issues.

    It is my view that obesity is a personal problem, and the health insurance rates for those who are significantly overweight, should carry a significant premium. The obvious is......there has to be a monetary incentive for people to lose the weight. Higher insurance costs for those who are overweight, should be that incentive.

    August 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  4. Lisa in San Jose

    Sure, Jack. Because bariatric surgeons need a government-sponsored stimulus-package too!

    August 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  5. Lou Averitt

    As long as it is State money, who cares. That state has been crazy a long time. SO what's new?

    August 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  6. sam delray beach fl

    yes because the likelihood of spending more on conditions related to their obesity is greater than the 2.4 million

    August 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  7. riley oday

    Its not a good idea BUT since they are going to be lifetime employees
    with lifetime retirement, probably will cost less to have them thinner now. They have some large folks in SC. We have them larger here in
    Charleston WV. We are still #1.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  8. David Gerstenfeld

    Wow! How much are they spending on botox injections for state workers that have wrinkles or maybe hairplugs for balding men or ....

    David, Las Vegas

    August 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Harold in Anchorage

    If it results in healthier people with a commensurate reduction of diabetesand other obesity-related issues, then it may prove a cost-effective idea for larger populations;perhaps on a national scale.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  10. Melissa

    No. What a complete waste of money.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Heck no it's not a good idea. Buy them tread mills and tell them to use them or they'll be fired.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  12. Kevin in Dallas

    If something the State required them to do resulted in the weight gain, then yes. Employers are responsible for what they require their employees to do. If the workers got fat on their own time, then they should foot the bill.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  13. Kevin of SD CA

    Absolutely not! What else is the private sector going to be on the hook for? Just tell the obese unhealthy state workers that their pay will be cut and their healthcare and other benefits will be taken away if they don’t control their lives! Better yet, just cut all salaries and benefits to all local, state, and federal workers until the private sector workers are covered dollar for dollar equal to the government wages and benefits!

    August 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  14. Jerry Driskell

    Hey. Probably cheaper than letting them file for disability because they can't control their eating habits and drawing a check from the taxpayers for the next fifty years.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  15. David Alexandria VA

    If someone's health is truly (and I mean truly) endangered b y morbid obesity, yes. But, if the person fails to lose weight, they should have to refund the costs to the state.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  16. pat in michigan

    no. spend that money on lunch programs for the poor kids in school.tell the state workers to walk to work.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  17. Bizz Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    As long as the 2.4 million is covered under their healthcare plan. Then I do not see a problem with it. They would have to pay out more in the long run for health problems that obesity causes. However there should also be a plan that helps to keep the weight off. Because so many people go back to their old lifestyle causing them to put the weight back on.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  18. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    wouldn't just getting some exercise by "hiking the Old Appalachian trail" be cheaper (and more fun)?

    August 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  19. Jurgen R. Brul

    Dear CNN friends,

    Is it Not a good idea for South Carolina,
    Because Barack Hussein Obama and Kathleen Sebelius
    Must Immediately Improve the Health, Safety and Well-being of America!

    Jurgen R. Brul

    August 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  20. dennis from Minneapolis, MN

    But Jack! I've been told Obesity doesn't cost others more money! It's a personal choice affecting no one but the individual! What went wrong?! LOL. Yes. Give them the surgery. Its not fair to ask them to stop eating. People have rights Jack. They DESERVE this.

    P.S. Sarcasm.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  21. Russ in PA

    I can't believe the utter nonsense that passes for rational thought in America any more...

    August 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  22. Phyllis G Williams

    Is it a good idea for South Carolina to spend $2.4 million on weight loss surgeries for state workers?

    I really do not know. Just sharing this with you.
    In Jamaica West Indies there were two oversized ladies. I was boarded in the home of one.
    The other one did her weight loss stuff and laughed to scorn the one at my home.
    A few days later she slipped and fell and was dead.. If she had followed Psalm 22: 29 and Isaiah 55: 2b possibly she would have been alive today

    August 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  23. Sandra in Temecula, CA

    I am sure in their twisted little minds they have justified the outrageous spending by fantasizing that this will reduce tax payer costs in the long run. This must be another loose attempt to call this stimulus money.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  24. Phil in Port St Lucie, Florida

    Why not? They pay for the governor's trips to South America

    August 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  25. Brent, Cleveland, OH

    Why stop at state workers?

    Why not pay for the surgery for any South Carolina resident, including illegal aliens?

    Why are state workers any more deserving of better health than anyone else, especially when the taxpayers are footing the bill?

    August 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  26. Missy M.

    I think it's good that SC is paying for these surgeries. There are so many myths about obesity ... the first being that obese people are simply fat and lazy and don't have the will to change. Truth is, in some cases people are fighting genetics, emotional problems or other issues that make weight loss almost impossible. Look at it this way, if losing weight was so easy, why does Oprah Winfrey, one of the richest and most influential women in the world, have trouble controlling her weight? She has every resource most overweight people dream of – money, a personal trainer, a chef, etc., yet she still struggles. By helping their state workers get control of their weight, the state of SC will save a lot of money in the long run. Good move.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  27. Jim S

    Why should the South Carolina government address a problem that should be addressed by individuals? Americans want someone else to solve their problems even when much of it is the result of bad habits and a lack of discipline. If they want to live, let them lose weight on their own. Geez!

    August 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  28. Sam

    Not only is it a bad idea, it'll herald the apocalypse if this is how we waste our dying hours away. Spending taxpayer dollars on the personal vanity of state employees is absolutely disgusting. We have reached new absurd lows. The only 'weight' that government needs to 'lose' is its own grotesque bulk of endless spending, self-righteous entitlements and fat cat pension plans. How about instead of paying for weight loss the state just fire all of those greedy, needy employees? PS I like your filing this under 'obesity' – obese indeed, as in fat government.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  29. Dennis north Carolina

    politics and weight lost are making south Carolina the largest jokes in the country.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  30. Greg Who? Mechanicsburg, PA

    Obesity does not just look awful, it costs in health care expenses, and kills from the effects of diseases caused by obesity. In the long run it will save the state millions of dollars in terms of medical expenses and save the lives of those who undergo the surgery. Is it smart to invest a comparatively small amount to save a great deal in the future? Yes. Is it worth laying off a few employees who will in all likelihood find other employment or be rehired in the future to save the life of another? Yes. Remember, the obese are not "weak-willed" anymore than someone who gets cancer from smoking. Obesity is an illness in its own right and has the same type of brain chemistry malfunction as addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, or heroine. South Carolina should be applauded for its foresight and efforts.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  31. jimbo

    Based on the economy right now, it is wrong since weight loss can be done within yourself while more severe medical conditions cannot be solved by self-improvement.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
  32. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    If they don't care about their health, then who will?

    August 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  33. AL Brown

    A better return on the 2.4 Million would be to perform a frontal lobotomy on the politicians who think this is a good idea. If that works we could do the same to members of Congress.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  34. joseph

    a perfect example of when you need the federal govt to step in to stop the state ridiculousness...i wander whatthe shareholder dividend pays on that one... to bad they refuse to eat wise and healthy...such surgeries are unnecessary..

    August 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  35. Steve, Clifton, VA

    It would be a great idea if the State was not smothered with a record deficit and historical unemployment numbers. This idea is a true and clear evidence that the criteria that we employ to elect folks to public office are not people that have the skills to represent the best interest of "all" of the people and the best interest of the country.......

    August 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  36. Deb in Texas

    Jack, next year it will be $4.8 million, when those same people don't leave the refrigerator, stove, fast foods and snacks alone. And the year after next it will go continue to grow exponentially. If these over weight people WANTED to lose weight they would start eating better foods and when you mention walking or any type of exercise to them – they tend to have lost their tongue because they don't respond at all. I see them constantly riding around and around in parking lots – why? because they rather keep riding until a close parking space is available than walk 50 feet – it's really disgusting.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  37. Angela

    With obesity being a major cause of death and chronic illness, I am surprised more insurance companies do not pay for surgery or other medically monitored weight loss programs. I suspect that the rules for payment of surgery are stringent and only cover people who are morbidly obese and whose weight is a danger to their health.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  38. Tony from Southport

    Why not. They got fat working for the state, why not trim the fat off their bodies. It's for sure the state won't trim the fat off their spending!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  39. andyz

    What's the unemployment rate in S.C.? They want to spend taxpayers money to trim the fat in the State Government work force? Is the analagous to Nero fiddling while Rome burned? Some one in South Carlolina desparately needs a reality check! No money to pay teachers, roads and highways need repair, police and fire fighters being laid off and gluttons getting surgery paid for by the state. George Orwell never saw this.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  40. Olga O. Pina

    What you put in your mouth is a choice. No one is forced into gluttony and no one is responsible for anyone's weight except the person that is eating too much.

    Why should we not learn from Republicans? Just say NO!...

    Austin, Texas

    August 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  41. Paul in Florida

    Just another way for the taxpayer to pick up the tab for a government worker's bad decisions. Pathetic.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  42. Peg from N.Y.

    It is a horrible idea and whoever found it a good idea needs a flogging. How about spending it on Education and Employment?!?

    August 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  43. Mr D

    Apparently the weight loss industry has a strong lobby in South Carolina. Either that, or the state can't find enough other things to spend their money on. How about a new state motto: "their loss is our gain".

    August 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  44. Ed from Port Aransas, TX

    You know, between Senator Jim "Obama's Waterloo" DeMint, Governor "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" Stanford, Congressman "You Lie" Wilson, Senate Candidate Alvin "Indicted on Porn Charges" Green, the state might be better served to spend that weight loss money on mental health services for it's politicians.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  45. Hugo Kijne, Hoboken NJ

    Looks like an interesting experiment.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  46. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Another government blunder in progress is what this is. How about instead you put a zipper in their mouths and keep it locked until feeding time and then limit thier intake. Whats next we pay for their children to get this procedure done too? What the hell ever happen to preventative medicne? How about diet and excercise?

    August 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  47. ZionMari

    I have often wondered about the stupidity of South Carolina, this confirms it!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  48. Minesh - Troy, MI

    No Jack.
    When does this mad government spending stop?

    Minesh Baxi, Troy, MI

    August 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  49. Lori - PA


    I think it would be a better idea for South Carolina to invest the 2.4 million in a community and public health nutrition program for state workers.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  50. Janne from NC

    Wouldnt it be cheaper to just pay for a weight watchers & gym membership?

    August 17, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  51. Gail, Plano TX

    Now let's ponder this for a minute! $24 million dollars to pay for fat operations on South Carolina workers? So the people who work at McDonald's or teachers, or supermarkets are not eligible? And where is this money coming from? Last I heard, that charmboy governor Sanford refused the stimulus money offered from the government. How about a diet for the obese workers? Or buy them healthy food to eat. Lots cheaper. So it's ok for the local governments to pay for these operations. Is this not socialism? South Carolina should get its act together!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  52. Ed

    No, it's ancient wisdom that A bird in hand is worth two in the bush, even if those hands are pudgy and the bird is finger lickin good.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  53. Ronda (from Canastota, NY)

    It would be better if South Carolina spend a lot less than $2.4 million on educating its state workers to put down that fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, and instead pick up a veggie salad and some low-fat yogurt. And it wouldn't hurt if they took brisk walks on their breaks and lunch hours. That's how I lost almost 60 pounds when I was a New York state worker. I bet it'll work in South Carolina too.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  54. Thom Richer

    It seems to me that our growing obsession with insisting on everyone being perfect physically, being educated to predetermined standards and marching to the same drummer in lock-step, that Maybe Hitler isn't dead after all. We look down with greater disdain each day on those who are different than us or do not meet our societal standards. You are not a good citizen if you are too fat, too skinny, too poor, too dark, too uneducated, too liberal, too sickly, too outspoken, too short, not pretty enough, too old, or just not what we determine is acceptable. We now demand perfection just as Hitler was determined to make the human race and for the same reasons. Control, greed and contempt for anything not perfect. So, unless our actions are motivated purely and sincerely by compassion and not profit, it is as sick as they come idea

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  55. Garnet, Corning. OH

    Hey Jack, one important question should be, where is that money coming from, their milk shake taxes? They should, instead, try another exercise, every time their elbow bends, keep their mouth shut. Or maybe, jog up the Appalachian Trail!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  56. MP

    when are americans going to realize that invasive procedures and drugs are not the answers to health issues. whats wrong with this country is preferring plastic surgery over natural looks, unhealthy food choices, eating in restaurants very often and too lazy to cook at home, not enough exercise, and the big is better attitude. During the health care debate when the government proposed increasing taxes on unhealthy foods such as soda and candies, people were all over the politicians bickering about how they are taxed over simple pleasures in life – they don't want to make compromises and definitely lack the attitude to take advices.

    A solution that does not address the root cause of this problem cannot be the long lasting one. In this case the only way to solve the obesity problem is dietary discipline and exercise. period.

    -Silver City, NM

    August 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  57. Arlene, Illinois

    I always thought South Carolina was a third world country
    and now I'm convinced of it!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  58. Jimmy in North Carolina

    Jack, those shrimp and grits platters are mighty tasty but it's cheaper to just say "no." Pushing away from the table is much cheaper than weight loss surgery. Those state "workers" might need to move around a little more and burn those calories the old fashioned way.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  59. honest John in Vermont

    I wish you were just joking Jack. 100 employees @ 24,000 dollars each to lose weight? They sure have a lot of money to throw around but sure does sound stupid to me. No wonder South Carolina needs money.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  60. John from San Antonio

    Absolutely not! A better idea would be to start educating Americans and create a government agency to monitor the food and drug industries.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  61. Ed's Kate

    WHAT A RIDICULOUS IDEA. Unless these people have an extremely serious health problem and are in immediate danger of death, only then should such dire measures be taken.
    What obese folks (not just in South Carolina) should do is listen to their doctors and learn to eat properly. This is just a a special interest group showing a real sign of stupidity.

    Diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and sleep apnea can all be treated without going to such crazy exremes. The money that will pour into this program could very well be used more efficiently helping people who need jobs or who are in danger of losing their jobs.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  62. Leslie

    I do not have a issue with this bring back the public opt.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  63. lou

    The money would be better spent getting lobotomies for the officials who thought this was a good idea. 2.4 million for 100 people. That's just nuts.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  64. Greg, Hamilton Ontario

    Normally your question have a simple yes or no approach to them but I think this one has a lot of grey to it. Yes it's good that the state is looking for ways to improve the health of it's employees and look for ways to cut the costs at the same time but it doesn't have to cost 24 grand a pop.
    If I understand it right doesn't each and every state have a national gaurd or something like that? Doesn't that national gaurd unit also include surgeons? These so called surgeries could be done for next to nothing, with highly trained people. Also you could tell the state employees that obesity would be grounds for fines, suspensions or even outright dismissal. Given a year or so you would see them putting the fork down I know I would.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  65. Mike S., New Orleans

    It's a 'pilot program.' It has yet to be determined if it was save money in the long run. But if it does, then insurance companies should also save money in the long run by paying for more obesity reduction services. Then we can all go celebrate with a Wendy's Triple Bacon Burger.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  66. Johnny C (from Los Angeles)

    Hi Jack –

    Sounds like discrimination to me ... only state workers? Each day you hear about how the state employee feels like they are being cheated ... men in Wisconsin want Viagra and the state of South Carolina is taking care of some of their obese folks, etc.

    What ever happened to having pride in yourself and handling the concern on your own? And why is it that only state employees have this clout to get the freebies. Government has run amuck and everyone wants something for nothing. I just wish they all would grow up and stop reaching into my wallet for their personal needs.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  67. Griff

    "To me! This question is more about how much weight they carry in their brains, as to whether it is worth spending at the other end."

    August 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  68. Anna from Greensboro, NC

    Speaking from personal experience here. I had Weight- loss surgery almost 2 years ago. I'm a healthy 34 year old female. After struggling with my weight my whole life, taking every drug that has come out, been on every doctor approved plan out there and every crank diet, WLS was my best option. I wasn't super-morbidly obese and I was very acive but I was still 280. I now weigh in at 145. I had severe acid reflux which is now gone. I had back problems that required physical therapy. Also now resolved. My asthma and migraines have both improved with the weight loss. I go to the doctor twice a year now for physicals whereas before it was once a month. I take one medication a day instead of four. Heck yes it's going to save the state money. But only if they set the program up right and make sure all of the people selected have proper after care. That's the only way to be a success. It's not a quick fix, it's a lifetime commitment.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  69. Barbara from Los Angeles

    These workers are already trained, so why not help them become more healthy and stay on their jobs with fewer sick days? If they aren't helped, they will eventually be on disability. I'd rather see the money paid up-front so that 90% of them have a good chance of making permanent lifestyle changes.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  70. Overby from Melbourne

    Why not spend a few hundred dollars and give them books on health and diet? Then, come up with a fair rule on how overweight you can be to keep your job and health benefits. Then, they'll either get healthy or they'll have to look for another job. Simple solution?

    August 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  71. Robbert Spads

    My God, government spending money to help people, what horrors will we face next? I’m going to have to write my Tea Party representative.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  72. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    No. This money could be better spent elsewhere because there is no guarantee that these people will keep the weigh off. Contract with lifestyle coaches to help these people change the way they live so the weight loss will be permanent. Makes no sense spending over $2 million on a whim.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  73. Kathie

    Come on! With the current state of our economy this is absolutely rediculous–this is elective surgery! This is just as bad as the teachers in Milwaukee, WI demanding that viagra be included in their insurance coverage while teachers are laid off and the school district is mired in debt!

    August 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  74. Thinkforyourself, OK

    NO wonder all the states are going broke. Progressives are out of control.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  75. wahela

    Oh my. Its great for those SC workers. But that just seems like a bit much. I have seen people get gastric bypass surgery and within a few years, they are as fat or fatter than they were before. Cut their wages for the budget deficit and they'll soon be gaunt and skinny. And the state of SC will have 2.4 million dollars. Just kidding.

    My health care insurance will pay for a lap band surgery, because they say its far cheaper than paying for all of the meds for all of the problems an obese person needs to take, due to diabetes hypertension, etc.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  76. Bill - Atlanta

    "..." in the long run, the state will save "a boatload of money."" Really? If my healthcare costs rise, my premiums are increased. My employer does not pay that increased premium nor does the state assist me. If we cut the "fat" in government spending we could pay the deficit in no time.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  77. Denny from Tacoma

    The lap band surgeries are pretty safe; however the gastric bypass surgeries are not. Many gastric bypass surgeries end up with "dumping syndrome" and/or malnutrion problems that cannot be reversed. Good luck to all who undergo them.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  78. Ken in Maryland

    Sounds like a "single payer" system to me. If it's good enough for state workers, why not everybody else?

    August 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  79. George from SC


    I been living here in South Carolina and I agree with the statistics. The majority of the economy is fast and fried food (yuck). i would rather see the money put into sport programs and health education. It is no wonder that the First Lady is urging parents to introduce our children in physical ed.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  80. Jeff In Minnesota

    So because you work for the State of South Carolina you are not deserving of the same health care benefits that workers in the private sector enjoy? Maybe the State of South Carolina should get out of the self-insurance business and turn things over to a real insurance company.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  81. Cameron SF, CA

    How about putting all that $$$ for surgeries into their school system to teach the children of this generation how to eat well and keep their bodies healthy? Let's invest in the next generation (who is the most obese in history) and be able to save hundreds of thousands rather than just a few hundred who may or may not really succeed in the long run.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  82. John from Alabama

    Jack: Spend the money to reduce weight will save South Carolina in the future. The saving is $500,000,000 to $1 billion dollars over the next 10 years. It is worth the $2.4 million dollars, now. It is a great investment for South Carolina citizens. Take it from a person from the next to heaviest state in the nation: Alabama only Mississippi is heavier.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  83. MIke in TX

    If it's available through insurance to all state workers it's fine. To pick 100 to spend extra monies on that is not available to all state workers is wrong. In these days when politicians and citizens alike have their priority on jobs and the economy it shows the state lawmakers have their priorities and attention focused elsewhere. One would have to ask why they would lay off workers to save money but spend $2.4 million on a surgery that does not always work. Sounds like govt at work again.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  84. Rita in illinois

    What happens when people, after losing weight initially, gain it back? I think if they have that much money to spend on weight loss, it would be better spent teaching these same people, and their children how to shop, eat and cook healthier foods. It should also be spent on exercise programs that could be done during the work day. Give incentives for every 10 pounds lost, and for weight kept off. Surgery might be a quick fix but healthy eating is a learned lifestyle that surgery will not fix.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  85. marcia

    No it's not a good idea. Why not get the funding to build fitness centers all over the state and get reduced rates to join them for everyone it the state. That way jobs would be created,more people would be able to join and more would loose weight. Obese people can loose down to healthy weights...ever watch The Biggest Looser?Also the surgeries are very dangerous and actully a lazy way to loose weight. The way any state can save money is to make "Fat Cat "politicians and buracrats work to better their states with lower taxes and education about living healthier.

    Marcia in West Virginia

    August 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  86. Suzi

    Is that why they decided, at the last minute, to take the stimulis money? There must be a lot of kooky Republicans in S. Carolina.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  87. Greg Who? Mechanicsburg, PA

    Jack, what have you got against the obese? Obesity is an illness and has the same type of brain chemistry malfunction as addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, or heroine. I does not just look awful, it does cost in terms of health care expenses, and it kills. Is it smart to invest a comparatively small amount to save a great deal in the future? Yes. Is it worth furloughing a few employees to save the lives of several dozen people? Yes. South Carolina should be applauded for its foresight and efforts. All employers and health insurance carriers should follow suit.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  88. Jason, koloa hi

    These people may seem like an easy target, not just because they are big and can't move too fast, but because of state budget crunches nationwide. But, I think it is good to think in terms of the big picture. Too bad we can't seem to figure that out on the federal level when it comes to energy, the environment, the economy, or pretty much anything.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  89. Pete from Tarrytown

    and to think I can't afford to get my teeth fixed

    August 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  90. Sherry

    I'm really happy that Virginia can afford Medicare cuts. Let's tell it like it is; if you're a Republican, no taxes, and no breaks for the middle class who are about at the end of their rope. CUT Space exploration, bring home the troops in Afganhistan, raise taxes, for Pete sakes consider those of us who aren 't CEO's just hard working Middle class people who lost almost all their retirement, and 401K's, we would like to retire with Medicare and Social Security that's little to ask for our contribution to the sucesses of the USA!

    August 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  91. Loren

    It is an interesting idea. What happens when one of those volunteers dies on the table? Is the State going to pick up the tab for the liability claim as well? Doesn't sound like the State fully considered the risks.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  92. math

    The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease predicts that within the next decade, SC will be paying $1,500 in annual medical costs for every obese citizen.

    That's a heck of a lot less than the $24,000 each this new plan will cost. I hate to say it, but for now it sounds like they're better off leaving obesity in the hands of the current health care system.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  93. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    No jack they should just fire them and replace them if they dont meet the standards that's what the do with cops and military people .

    August 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
  94. Tammy from Ca

    I think where governement goes wrong most of the time is being penny wise and pound foolish. ( no pun intended) In this case, I think it probably is worth it.. but considering the economic situation, maybe they could come up with other supports for obese workers, such as sponsoring Weight Watchers meetings or free memberships to gyms. Its a great idea , but we need to be reasonable.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  95. Steve

    If in the end it reduces overall costs of health care then its a no brainer. Getting that fat in the first place is also a no brainer. I grew up in a fat family. They all ate too much and knew it.

    Steve in Guam

    August 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  96. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    Theres too many jobless people out here that are fit to do the jobs these people are getting fat doing that would love having there jobs most government organizations have standards to follow and if you dont pass then you go .

    August 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  97. Jim - Michigan

    This is indicative of the problem throughout the country, there is no limit to the number of programs that the government wants the tax payers to support. Look at how many people argue that we cannot pare back anything, instead they opt to increase taxes on the rich, on business etc... The problem is, we are at a point that we cannot tax our way out and as long as politicians depend on the vote of people dependent on gvernment handouts they will continue spending and promising new programs if it reinforces their base – just look at the democrats in the past two years it has been spend, spend, spend.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  98. George Ferdinand, Southgate, Michigan

    It is a great idea because it is proactive instead of reactive. The initial cost will be relatively small in comparision with future costs attributed to absenteeism, whether fmla or not, health care and precription drugs resulting in a bloating state budget that will be in need of serious trimming!

    August 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  99. david

    Its nonsense. Pay for it themselves if they want it. Where in the constitution does it say that the government is to provide for people? I think it was Davy Crockett that said not a dime could be spent from the public treasury for charity – let those that propose the charity pay for it themselves.

    50% pay reduction for our worthless bureaucrats!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  100. Jim - Michigan

    Why not go after obesity like the government does soking? Tax the heck out of all dairy, meat, starches etc... In fact, make the stores put labels on the food warning them that the food can cause specific health problems. In fact, make it illegal to sell fast food, meats and starches as well as any dairy product to anybody under 21. This government must love this idea, it gets them more control over our lives and allows our politicians an ability to limit our liberties.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  101. Donald St.Jo,MO

    Seems like a lot of money to spend on 100 people. They would come out on top if they paid employees to complete a walk during their lunch hour.

    August 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  102. John, Colorado

    The most important thing to do in the South is to change their eating habits. After a business meeting in Alabama, our crew from Colorado was treated to a deep-fat-fried seafood dinner where everything was crispy breaded and dripping with fat, including the corn-on-the-cob. It was a fantastic meal...until 1:00 AM when I sat bolt upright in bed with near-terminal indigestion. All South Carolina needs to do is make the preparation or eating of fried food a felony.

    August 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
  103. Joe R - Houston

    The AMA, doctors in general and lap band specialists in particular endorse this and all other government programs that help direct a portion of the public debt to their personal bank accounts. We benevolently deserve this piece of the public pie more than the greedy fast food lobbyists would have you believe.

    August 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  104. oldgoat

    In a sense it does make sense. If by reducing the fat people you can make them healthier they will cost less in the long run.

    August 17, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  105. Jim


    A good idea? Fat chance! Simply providing counseling to those with an obesity problem would be a good investment and a lot cheaper.

    Reno, Nevada

    August 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  106. Ashlee

    This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! These people didn't have any problem getting in the shape they are. They should have to work just as hard as everyone else to get the weight off. How about a gym membership or using all that money for education.

    August 17, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  107. Annie, Atlanta

    Frankly I'm surprised the good people of my neighboring state haven't taken up pitchforks and torches to storm the capitol building. This kind of expenditure, in light of the poor ranking of their educational system, just to name one shortcoming, is obscene.

    August 17, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  108. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    Is there something in the water in South Carolina that causes insanity? The governor runs off to South America to be with his mistress abandoning his post telling nobody where he can be reached. Jim Demint's words concerning the President are shameful. The S.C. rep yells "you lie" to the President and now this surgery? Here is a state with high unemployment, many uninsured, a staggering high school drop out rate and they have money to pay for gastric by-pass surgery! Unbelievable!

    August 17, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  109. hobart

    If it saves money go for it. If it doesn't don't.

    Why not comment on whether the expenditure will save money in the long run or not, rather than appeal to hatred for fat people?!

    August 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  110. bob z fr ,pa.

    they should have their heads examined.

    August 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  111. Karl from SF, CA

    Jack, South Carolina is the home of Gov. Mark Sanford and Rep. Joe "You lie" Wilson. It all sounds rational to me under those circumstances.

    August 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  112. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York

    How about partially subsidizing health club memberships for all its state workers as well as applying a surcharge for all foods proven to exacerbate obesity, such as sugary sodas, junk food, and fast food restaurants ?
    Five cents more for your Whopper with cheese in return for healthier workers and state budget surpluses – what a radical concept

    August 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  113. Mark in Arkansas

    Here's the solution: Bring home-economics back in to the school system, and teach children how to cook and prepare better meals. All we teach them now in school is how to use a credit card to buy a McDonald's burger or a bucket-o-chicken.
    Second, enact a weight limit on all state and city government employees. Give them 90 days to show weight loss or lose their job. THEN don't hire overweight people. If we don't give jobs to people without degrees, why give them to fat people?

    August 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  114. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Yes, if the State is responsible for supplying their employees with doughnuts, twinkies, sodas and snack machines resulting in obesity and less work.

    August 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  115. Joe in Missouri

    Come on Jack. Don't you get it? We have a strong vested interest in skinny bureaucrats.

    August 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  116. Mark from Voorhees, NJ

    With lying hypocrites like Sandford, rapacious psychotics like DeMint, making bars serve liquor in airline bottles, every crazy or stupid idea is embraced and celebrated in SC.

    A better investment for the US is to see if we can saw it off and push it out to sea.

    August 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  117. Paul Round Rock Texas

    I guess fat is as fat does. So no way should the taxpayers have to pay for the error's in eating that so many refuse to change their habits.
    It's a bad bad idea.

    August 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  118. Cheryl in Bluffton, SC

    I'm surprised there aren't TEA partiers picketing the state capitol with "Furlough the Fatties" signs.

    August 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  119. Gary H. Boyd

    Jack, this is, indeed, a heavy question. How much one weighs is personal. That the government wants to get involved in peoples weight suggests the question –, what will be next? It's simply too heavy and too much to bear Jack. I'm gonna go in and lay down. A pox on your world for even bringing it up.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    August 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  120. Steve Batts Edna, Kansas

    Jog my memory Jack! Spending four plus million dollars on state employee elective surgery while the state of South Carolina's heavy republican laden congressman tried to block health care and unemployment insurance for the voters. Gee Go Figure!

    August 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  121. Susan from Idaho

    We had two postal workers get the same surgery here in our small little town. Wonder where your tax dollars are going? They could have done what my friends and I do, watch what you eat and exercise. If the postal system is going under, let's not feel too badly for them.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  122. Anthony from NJ

    Hmmm, why do I envision a new movement to protect the rights of the obese? We may need a new constitutional amendment protecting people weighing 300 lbs or more. Even the airlines are discriminating against them. Their new slogan, "More for the pound".

    August 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  123. Scott Stodden

    I Heard About This The Other Day On One Of The Other CNN Shows And I Thought It Was Rubbish Then And I Still Think This Is Complete And Utter Rubbish! Why Would Anybody Support Something Such As This When We Have States That Are In Debt, Schools Are Failing, People Need Jobs But South Carolina Is Going To Pay For People To Lose Weight, Here's An Idea Fat People Go To The Gym, Exercise, Eat Right And Maybe If You Do This For About A Year Straight You Just Might Start To Lose Weight! Let's Focus On The Real Issues In This Country!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    August 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  124. Ken in NC

    Not really Jack. You see, even after surgery they will still have the same big loud mouths.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  125. Rick McDaniel

    No. It really should be the individual's problem to lose weight. At the cost of the surgery, vs. the potential health problems that could be caused by the obesity, the surgery might be a cheaper alternative, in the long run, but the state can simply set weight guidelines, for good health, and use those for hiring in the future.

    Obesity, to the degree that it actually harms your health, should be cause not to hire.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  126. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, if this saves money in the long run and helps the workers toward healthier lives, yes, it is justified. The key thing here is that this is a voluntary procedure, up to the individual and their Doctor, and should be covered by the worker's health care, when the procedure is indicated. Anyone who even thinks they want this type of surgery, better get it soon, because by 2014, when Obamacare takes over the nation's health care system, elective type surgeries will be a thing of the past, whether or not they help the individual's health.

    August 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  127. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    Someone has to save them from their ultimate downfall sooner or later. Let's go with sooner!

    August 18, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  128. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Pocket change Jack. South Carolina will spend a few million to reduce 100 big bellies. Big deal. Here in New York, we're gonna be dropping a few billion with a B to rid our state of zillions of pesky bed bugs. What's that crawling on your neck Jack? Just kidding old buddy...are you itching yet?

    August 18, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  129. Michael Armstrong Sr. Tx.

    The economy is in bad shape with thousands of people needing jobs most government organizations have regular health standards and if you dont pass a physical then your fired . no these people have bad judgment and that makes bad government .

    August 18, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  130. Marilyn in AZ

    This is ridiculous!
    Get the hormones out of the meat and dairy. Hormones are known to cause weight gain and obesity.
    Obesity is a SYMPTOM of hormone over-consumption....if you treat a SYMPTOM, you don't get a CURE! GO after the CAUSE!

    Lap band surgery is not always effective and they can gain the weight back.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  131. Rick

    Common Sense says NO

    Thanks Rick

    August 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  132. Billy Ngugi

    Wowe are you serious?Not only ios it a problem that its taxpayers money! What they need is 12 weeks of exercise to build their confidence back! The surgery will not do anything to their minds they need to sweat and relearn how to live the hard way!! ITS THAT SIMPLE

    August 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  133. LawsonSC

    Being healthier is great, but have we forgotten about eating healthily and exercising? If people would do this to start with, then the health problems and costs wouldn't exist in the first place.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  134. Kenneth

    What about those of us who've lost weight the old fashioned way, through diet and exercise? Nobody had to pay for that!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm |

    Considering a huge chunk of this money will go to the doctors and health care industry, how many treadmills do you figure $2.4 million would buy?
    Jupiter, Florida

    August 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  136. Truth in Texas

    HORSE RADISH!!! Tell S.C. to take 1/10th the money and set up a fitness facility for their workers. Get those butter butts on a treadmill and make them WORK IT OFF!!! Gastric bypass is not the end all solution. If a person does not change their lifestyle to eat healthy and exercise, the operation will do NOTHING for them except give them NO option later when the weight comes back in spades!!!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  137. Name*J Coffman

    I have Diabetes and Sleep Apnea. And guess what? I'm not overweight or obese.
    They're gambling with tax payer money.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  138. jim

    how is it different than paying for other unnecessary operations

    August 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  139. Tom, NY

    The scary part of this experiment is, if it's a radical success, could it one day lead to goverment angencys or private companies being legally able to force employees to get the proceedure in order to keep their job.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  140. Brian

    Hey Jack, maybe those government employees should do a little work instead of sitting on their behinds and stuffing their faces. Then we can save the money on the gastic bypasses and get better government service too!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
  141. janette tx.

    Yes but they ought to make them sign an agreement that if they back
    peddle they will have to reimberse the cost of the procedure.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  142. Matt

    Hi jack,

    I myself was once overweight. Then i learned not to eat garbage, and go to a gym. And guess what, it cost the commonwealth of Massachusetts NOTHING! Get off the couch and stop making excuses.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  143. Mark from Boston


    Great idea.

    I think I will go to work tomorrow and ask my employer to just pay me my next ten years salary up front so I can put it in an interest-bearing, private equity account and live off the dividends. So I'm prepared,
    where do I order the cotton paper and treasury-style printing presses?

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  144. Clinton Pope

    Of all the ways to calculate the cost of improved health care in the U.S. which I've heard in recent years, it seems South Carolina has come up with a new one: Health care by the pound.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  145. Daniel


    I am a state employee and I can tell you this money would be better spent by giving cost of living adjustments to our pay which has not happened in the past 2 years or to avoid rifts and furloughs and maybe just maybe to hire workers to do the job needed to serve the citizens of SC. At my job there are 3 people to serve the entire county of Aiken.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  146. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Excuse the humor here but these medical operations should be covered by health insurance getting fat money from their premiums charged to clients big or small!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  147. Robert Dantzscher

    SC employees getting bypass surgery to the tune of $2.4 million? I've replaced my large plates for smaller ones, essentially used the South Beach Diet for 6 months and take time to walk 3-5 miles daily. These simple choices have helped bring about 53 lbs of weight loss. I'm pretty sure thats easier than surgury. South Carolina should be ashamed of using such extremes without trying something less invasive, first.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  148. Hari

    Why cant the government instead provide membership to health clubs and nutrition experts at a great discount and then monitor their usage to make sure they are used. The point is to make them work for it and not put a band aid to stop it temporarily.
    Also, the government can make them pay for it by giving the option to work one more day per week or something like that. This cant be free.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  149. Godfred

    didn't south carolina governor threaten to sue the Obama Administration over bailout citing wasteful government spending?...... well its sure sounds stupid here if the state now wants to spend this much money on weight loss, imagine if this had come from washington, these same people would have called it " you guess it" wasteful government spending!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  150. Bob in Texas

    Yes, it is a good idea, if the data is objectively collected and analyzed. Jack, it's an experiment to see if the program is feasible in the long term. I think it's a good one. Answer me this, is it a good idea to have vaccination programs for kids? Or, subsidies to help pay for rehabilitation programs that put people back to work? Sure it sounds a bit excessive at first, but think about it. If the program works it could save tens of millions in health care costs while improving the quality of life for the participants. Is that really such a bad thing?

    August 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  151. Phil

    If they really want this money to be preventative and save long term health care costs, use this money in the schools to pay for health food and educate TOMORROW'S obese adults by educating TODAY'S youths.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  152. niki grande

    good idea? this is a state that doesn't even have the most basic supplies and equipment in the schools–some schools still distribute chalk boards to the students because they can't afford notebooks–it is incredible that any extra funds would be spent anywhere but in the schools–how about nutrition education?

    long beach, ny

    August 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  153. Kyle in NYC

    Maybe it would be a better idea for SC to spend 2.4 million on education and educate people how to eat better, or I don't know, make them get up and go for a walk! In other words make them get off their ... Maybe put up a couple million for a on site GYM and another couple million into on site cafeterias which provide low cost healthy foods. Maybe spend a couple million on attracting places like Whole Foods rather than opening another McDonald's franchise or a few more White Castles. Though this is all in my slim opinion.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  154. Katie

    Why the state employees? Government employees are already have the health insurance to pay for it, and probably have preventative health care options to not get that way to begin with. To say nothing about how much more money make then the private sector so they can afford to join a gym.

    Why not the the neediest obese people first? Those who have no insurance, no prevention opportunities-ultimately they are the people costing the system the most money, now and in the long run.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  155. Jeremy

    No it is not a good idea for a state that is next to last in education, has a lottery, and whose police force drives brand spankin' new BMWs and Dodge Chargers to be spending over 2 million dollars on state employees lap band surgeries when not too long ago they had a hiring freeze for all state applicants. Pay particular attention to the second to last education fact and the new BMWs and Dodge Chargers, Jack. They would rather send you to jail in style than send you to school armed with what you are going to need to succeed. Get this corrected, then spend all of your money on the obese if you want. Until then, secede please!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  156. Peter s CA

    No Jack! it's not a good idea for South Carolina to spend $2.4 million on weight loss. Fire the overweight but before sending them home, teach them how to grow vegetables!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  157. Jon from Tempe, Az

    Absolutely Jack! You can not understand what it is like to be morbidly obese unless you have been there. I used to be morbidly obese and I had the surgery. We do not choose to be fat. We are not lazy. Some people inherit bad genetics. Should we refuse to pay for lung cancer because it is the results of smoking? I literally had to go to Mexico to get surgery because insurance would not cover it and it was so expensive here in the U.S.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  158. Bernie

    I thought being fat was a constitutional right. This program sounds like it was thought up by communists, nazis, or Dr. Frankenstein.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  159. Nancy, Tennessee

    This decision to give extra benefits to the obese employees will probably cause other employees to feel slighted. It could be a problelm. Those that exercise and have a healthy diet might want the state to help with their membership at the gym. I don't think the obese should be rewarded for behavior that got them in the condition they are in now.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  160. Johnson

    Instead of paying for their surgery, the state should pay for a nutritionist and a gym membership or personal trainer for them..
    It's a lot cheaper solution, and it will help educate these workers on healthy meal options. It might help instill some discipline as well.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  161. Julius

    Instead, invest in behavior change activities which will help everyone including the children; if more marathons/walks and similar actions are promoted then everyone gains and not just the overweight workers. More so, lapband surgery is not always effective despite the high price. Behavior change is cheaper and more long term.

    Wouldn't it be good to get income tax returns because one eats and lives healthy resulting in reduced obescity? Hmmmmmmmm food for thought.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  162. Doris Lauter

    No....Hire skinny people.
    Or take their brown bag away
    Ojai, Ca.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  163. Sasha Charleston, SC

    Really Jack? I mean really?? I think we all know there are better ways to spend 2.4 million dollars but we are talking about SC so...nevermind.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  164. Brian

    Government employees get anything no matter the cost. Why not, the don't haveto pay for it. Just charge the tax payers who are getting less and less while paying more and more taxes.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  165. Patrick R. Harper

    Its a very good attempt to fix this on growing epidemic but if you don't handle the person's mental state this could cause more harm than good.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  166. Charles

    Tax payers to pay for surgeries for someone else? What's next, week-long vacations at the fat farm? Where I work, we get a discount on our health insurance for participating in a wellness program. You do not necessarily have to lose a bunch of weight, just try. By participating in the program, you get the insurance discount.
    Why doesn't the SC government sponsor a wellness program that includes (and enchourages) nutrition and exercise?? If you do not participate, the cost of your insurance goes up. Leave the tax payers alone!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  167. sickandtired

    Just another way that the goverment EXPANDS the wallets of the tax payers that is already STRETCHED to the limit. We didn't force them to be GLUTTENS and eat everything in sight that's not nailed down and become OBESE why should we have to pay for them to loose weight. They probably make more money than most of us. Let them pay for ir themslves.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  168. George E.

    As a Bariatric Surgeon who regularly treats severely obese patients,I wholeheartedly endorse the S.C. plan. I have seen many severe diseases(including in myself) benefit from this. We see frequent remission of diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol problems, sleep apnea and many more. It is a small price to pay for elimination of heart disease, renal failure, diabetes, hyper tension that will cost the system billions in the future. This is typical of the shortsightedness of many public officials and politicians. If this done were nationwide, it would reduce the healthcare budget for many years including the staggering upcoming effects of our epidemic of childhood obesity.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  169. Mary Elsener

    Our answer(?) quick fix for everything, so a miraculous surgery sounds like a breeze. Obesity happens over years of terrible habits and lack of exercise. A 2.4 milion dollar bill to foot these gastric bypass surgeries is ridiculous. These state workers need to reach into their own pockets and do it with the old fashioned methods of safe weight loss such as Weight Watchers or a sensible diet with Dr. Peter Gott's, "No flour, no sugar." Success is measured by weekly weight loss, if that doesn't occur, bye bye!!. Much more likely to be a realistic incentive. (And their likely obese offspring need to join also!) These surgeries done and then not followed with a proper diet will result in high dollar fix it attempts, so more money over and over again!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  170. Graduate Student in Fargo

    If they want to REALLY save money in the long run, why not use that money to fund educational programs in nutrition and create group excercise programs, or incentives to join health clubs? The overwhelming number of obese children of these obese workers will see their parents making a lifestyle change. These behaviors regarding food and excercise in children are largely impacted by the example their parents set.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  171. Linda Drum

    You can't make this stuff up. If I didn't know better, I would think that this was an Saturday Night LiveL skit. If S.C. can use tax dollars to pay for weight loss surgery, how about the Federal Gov't. using tax dollars to pay for brain surgery on some of the morons in Congress. That would probably be better for the American public in general.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  172. UK Jim

    I am used to the UK being called a "Nanny State" from my American friends so I find this story very ironic. First it was mortgage and corporate bailouts for people/businesses who bit off more than they could chew... and now the government is going to be bailing out obese adults who over indulge in their refrigerators? I think the US is about to take the crown as the new Nanny state.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  173. nancy hanna

    Jack, I am a new resident to SC. I have never seen so many over-wt, and many obese people in my life!! Is there not another way to solve probs. rather than surgery? This is not an easy surg. to perform or to survive. Why not do more with health agencies to chg. their lifesyle and their children? Everything is fried in this st. and people stil eat fat-back. I'm not even sure what that food is, but just fr. saying it, makes me want to puck..There needs to be a total over-haul of this st. and their eating habits!!

    August 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  174. steve lewis


    This approach seems far to radical. Why not try other weight loss programs and monitor them closely. Acupuncture and other less invasive modalities have proven to be very effective. I hope South Carolina doesn't cause more problems than they are hoping to avoid. AND, the cost of these surgeries is unsupportable as a public expense.

    Steve-Pacific Palisades, CA

    August 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
  175. Phyliss Myers

    I do no think this is a good idea. I had gastric bypass in 1999 and if I knew then what I know now I would never have had the surgery. Complications abound with this surgery. Following patients for 18 months is not enough time. I lost 150 and to date have gained 70 back. It is not the end all be all. It teaches people nothing about eating properly. Unless they are properly schooled on all the changes they will have to make, all the emotional trips they will go on because of the changes they have to make to their eating habits. Better they go to a nutritionist and learn how to make better choices. Eating real food instead of fast food, processed foods. I could go on and on regarding the negatives to weight loss surgery.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  176. Tom

    A state employee already has it better than a private sector employee when it comes to employment and health benefits. I say we (the people) should have the government establish a weight standard program for the government employee to adhere to instead of paying for their obesity – they chose to be overweigh- not me, so why should my tax dollars pay for their fat reduction program. I live in Virginia and was unaware of this program. I just don't know where our elected officials' heads are anymore.

    August 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  177. Linda in Arizona

    No, it's insane. What's next – telling obese employees if they don't submit to radical surgery they're fired?

    August 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  178. Linka Rayburn

    The logical idea would be to make the really overweight people PAY more to be insured ! Then offer agroup discount or co-pay from the providers or Doctors who peform the surgery. Better health will not result from this as many of these patients go right back to being overweight.. Of course logic in our government entities..... is an oxymoron.......

    August 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm |