ACHIEVING A HEALTHY FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN, SCHOOLS, HEALTH SYSTEMS & STATES

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Legislator & Political Leader Support

What are the chances that any politician will be re-elected, if they are seen as allowing children to be harmed?

We helped answer that question in Arizona in the 2018 election year. 90% of Senators and 95% of Representatives supported our K-5 recess bill, then the Governor (2018 also being a gubernatorial election year) signed it.

Voting 1

Note: Voting in legislature on Arizona school recess bill, 2018

Voting 2

Click/tap to enlarge.

Apparently, no one holding elected office wanted to be seen as depriving kids of recess at school. They could just imagine the direct mail and social media campaign: “My opponent hates recess! Why doesn’t he like our kids?”

Parents and grandparents make up almost half of the electorate—and they know that children need be active! Massive amounts of research just confirms parents’ intuition and common sense. Parents also know that kids need healthy nutrition to be healthy. And they know their kids’ mental health is critically important.

Add in about 1/3 million health care professionals who care deeply about people’s health.

And ½ million veterans, who care deeply that more than ¾ of high school graduates applying to join the armed forces are disqualified—most often due to a health-related issue.

Motivator Graphic

Note: bold under Example indicates already supporting our work.

These voter groups add up to a lot of political pressure that we can bring to bear.
We just need your support to further develop this powerful coalition.

Kicking the Can Down the Road vs. Increasing Physical Activity

The US Congress has “kicked the can down the road” for decades on federal spending. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to student health & wellness, state legislatures have also been doing their own version of can-kicking. 

States, unlike the federal government, could not engage in deficit spending and piling up government debt, in order to spend without raising taxes.  So state leaders chose a different strategy. 

In red-states, they cut taxes to put more money back into taxpayer pockets.  And families needed it, particularly to pay for ever-increasing health care costs

If you like tax cuts, you should love healthier habits.

At the same time, states put massive pressure on schools to improve reading, writing and math standardized test scores.

But red-state legislatures’ tax cuts and anti-spending philosophy kept them from investing adequate additional money in schools, in order to increase school instruction time to improve academic achievement.

Instead, they let schools try to figure out how to dramatically improve achievement—without any more money.

And schools echoed the legislature, and responded with their own “zero-sum” approach:

Given intense state accountability pressure on improving the “3 R’s”—reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic—without additional state funding, schools slashed physical & health education, arts education, and recess, in order to free up school time.

As this was going on, the Milken Institute, Michelle Obama, a broad range of universities, and many others were pointing out how children’s inactivity (and unhealthy nutrition) was worsening their health. And it was also damaging government finances and economic growth, too.

A few states, thanks to parent & grandparent pressure (and co-led by us in Arizona) responded with recess laws and other activity mandates—but without additional state funding being appropriated for implementation or accountability. So in those few states where new activity-related mandates were introduced, many schools did not implement the mandates.

At the same time as physical education and recess were declining in recent decades, activity at home fell to abysmal levels. Screen time replaced physical activity in many families.

As a result of this “double-whammy” at school and at home, child prediabetes skyrocketed:

from about 1 in 10 teens 20 years ago
→ to 1 in 3 teens with prediabetes nowacross income levels and ethnicities.

Since many families will not be able to afford their health care costs, other people will end up paying for them—through higher private insurance rates and more taxes to fund ever-higher government chronic disease management spending.

Higher chronic disease costs are driving health care costs and federal entitlement deficits. And as we have shown, those health costs are far higher than any future income tax cuts can compensate for.

Putting Our State Money Where Our Mouth Is

Everyone claims to care about children’s health. But now we can see that we actually, unintentionally, caused serious harm to our kids.

So what are you going to do about it?

The health statistics show what has happened, because we failed for decades to address inactivity and unhealthy nutrition (…and increasingly, mental health issues as well—with 1 in 5 teens seriously considering suicide each year).

Healthy Future US has spent over eight years figuring out what to do about this dire situation, and taking preliminary steps toward solutions. And we have made a lot of progress.

Now we are in the process of communicating, persuading and ultimately pressuring state public and private sector leaders to do the right and effective thing.

(And as research has shown, contrary to what our society has done for 30+ years, we do not need to sacrifice health for academic achievement. In fact, these are highly synergistic.)

Healthy Students Healthy State builds on our experience and achievements to-date. It lays out a clear credible path to empower students K-12 to dramatically improve their health habits. (This includes an unprecedented level of accountability for state and other stakeholder spending.)

To help very large numbers of people, practically & cost-effectively, and to maximize impact for the most people—we need long-term investments in large-scale systems change.

This level of commitment also reassures teachers returning to or entering the physical and health education areas, that those positions will be there long-term. (And as long as individual teachers are providing “good PE” and quality health education, they need to be given reassurance that their jobs will be secure.)

Potential health cost savings are based on actual savings from increased physical activity, fitness, and healthier nutrition per peer-reviewed literature, utilizing government data, and with gaps estimated by Healthy Future US. [More details are available on how these savings are estimated, including in our slide deck.]

And we have figured out a public-private, state-federal funding strategy, for which the legislature only pays one-third—and which pays for itself rapidly in a regularly measurable way:

10x ROI/Impact for the Legislature & Taxpayers

Our systemic, evidence-based approaches provide 10x or more Payback/ROI, from prevention-based health cost savings. (And up to ½ of that ROI happens quite rapidly.)

To help very large numbers of people, practically & cost-effectively, and to maximize impact for the most people—we need investments in large-scale, cross-sector, multi-level systems change.

And we expect all health-related funders including the legislature to continue investing at least some of their savings to help sustain the impact.

Philanthropic impact graphic

Continual Accountability & Mutual Commitment

Success at each step is demonstrated:

  • first, by measuring on-going student physical activity, nutrition, mental wellness and other health-related metrics, which can be cost-effectively monitored throughout the school year at schools.
  • and then by calculating estimated aggregated (individual privacy & confidentiality-protected) child & parent medical cost savings and employee productivity & GDP improvements annually. (And higher GDP translates immediately into higher “organic” tax revenue—with no new taxes!)

In return, the legislature must continue funding for Healthy Students Healthy State, as long as health metrics are improving adequately to ensure payback/ROI. The same conditional commitment is being requested of all public & private funders.

This mutual conditional commitment actually helps to ensure that financial goals are met: as long as funders can count on other matching funders, they can triple the impact of their investment and maximize their ROI.

This level of commitment also reassures teachers returning to or entering the physical and health education areas, that those positions will be there long-term. (And as long as individual teachers are providing “good PE” and quality health education, their jobs should be secure.)

Rapid Payback: High ROI for All Stakeholders

We have completed ROI analyses by stakeholder group—including the legislature/state budget; private health insurers & major self-insured employers; AHCCCS/Medicaid; and the broader public—including families, businesses & the economy.

These show that each group should expect at least a 10x ROI for its expected investment, assuming a roughly 1/3-1/3-1/3 “matching” co-investment. This investment ramps up over time to approximately $200-300M/yr per stakeholder group. And approximately half of the ROI happens in childhood and young adulthood, with annual payback within 10-20 years.

Annual Savings graphic

Potential health cost savings are based on actual savings from increased physical activity, fitness, and healthier nutrition per peer-reviewed literature, utilizing government data, and with gaps estimated by Healthy Future US. [More details are available [link to new web page—see above: Notes on Annual Savings by Stakeholder Group] on how these savings are estimated, including in our slide deck.]

Based on the unprecedented need and your potential impact, we ask for your support for Healthy Students Healthy State.

How can I help?

"Let's Talk"

One quick easy step that you can take now to help us is to fill out our Contact form.

When you fill out the Contact form, you can specify if & how you want us to follow up with you.

Another thing you can do is to encourage other legislators and political leaders, and your own personal network, to support Healthy Students Healthy State.

Please copy a link to this webpage to text to them;
or forward this webpage via email.

Here are other links you can copy & paste to text or email; or click to create an email now:

About Healthy Future US – click to Email now
Healthy Students Healthy State – Overview & Details – click to Email now