The revolutionary war’s call to arms, echoed over 200 years ago, was spun by England’s attempt to exploit the colonies through unnecessary taxation. Now days, congress’s attempt to find alternative sources of revenue to pay for it’s burgeoning health care reform bill is encroaching upon the exclusive rights of the people to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
For instance, take the new legislation to tax elective cosmetic procedures. To help offset the projected $849 billion cost of health care reform, congress has included a five percent tax on all elective cosmetic procedures with the bill.
Even though it may be a small part of the legislation, and what has been named as the “Botax” is gathering a lot of attention, particularly from plastic surgeons and their patients.
A spokesperson for Allergan Inc,. the maker of Botox, said in a statement this week, “Taxing cosmetic procedures is unnecessarily punitive on people who have merely decided to enhance their appearance.”
While legislators argue that the tax could raise an estimated five billion over ten years, plastic surgeons say it would only cut into the number of procedures being done, making the tax an unreliable and risky revenue source while further increasing unemployment.
Most people also assert that the language of this bill creates confusion over when a procedure is considered cosmetic or reconstructive.
As the bill is written, it is unclear, whether it would be considered cosmetic to remove the excessive skin from post-bariatric patients.
The bill’s current language applies to surgery “not necessary to make better a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease.” In other words, elective cosmetic surgery.
The bill’s sponsor believes that individuals who undergo elective procedures such as breast augmentation will only pay the tax without complaining because “it’s something they want.”
A similar tax in New Jersey did not work out as planned as patients simply went to neighboring states for their procedures. If a nationwide tax on cosmetic surgeries becomes law, more people will end up taking inexpensive plastic surgery vacations south of the border and elsewhere.
Medical tourism has already been growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, this legislation will just make it expand even further increasing the safety risks to patients and hurting the US economy in turn.