Cross-posted by Forbes.com at WLF Contributor Site
For those concerned with the federal government’s desire to influence what Americans choose to eat and drink, one particular provision of the FY 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act has garnered a fair amount of attention. The provision, § 262 of the Act, affects the Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts on child-directed advertising. The Legal Pulse did a post on that last week.
Two other provisions of the Act affecting public health and obesity have been almost entirely overlooked – Sections 220 and 503. Together, those sections will bring a needed dose of sunshine, and a compelled amount of restraint, to the use of funds handed out under § 2002 of the Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”). That section established the “Prevention and Public Health Fund,” which an August Guest Commentary Legal Pulse post discussed. As noted in the post, concerns had been raised that those administering the Health Fund eyed opportunities to push food police-type solutions, such as sugary-drink taxes. These aren’t nickel and dime amounts of taxpayer funds either; the Health Fund will increase to $2 billion annually by 2015.
Section 220 calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “establish a publicly accessible website to provide information regarding the uses of funds made available under section 4002,” and lays out specifics on what should be disclosed. Section 503 clarifies that Health Fund grants not be used in any way, shape, or form for lobbying purposes. Just in case there’s any doubt at HHS what Congress means, the provision states very specifically:
The prohibitions in subsections (a) and (b) shall include any activity to advocate or promote any proposed, pending or future Federal, State or local tax increase, or any proposed, pending, or future requirement or restriction on any legal consumer product, including its sale or marketing.”
If only Congress were always that clear in drafting the nation’s laws. As a public service, we offer the specific language of Sections 220 and 503 here, freed from the appropriation act’s avalanche of other words.