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Surgeons Object to Proposed Tax on Cosmetic Medicine

The most recent health care reform bill from the Senate includes provisions for a 5 percent tax on cosmetic services performed by licensed medical professionals. Now cosmetic surgeons and others in the industry are voicing their opposition to the tax, which could take effect as early as January, 2010.

One objection is that women, the predominant consumers in this industry, will pay the projected 5 billion dollar revenue almost entirely. The tax is “discriminatory” and therefore, “the wrong way to raise money to pay for expanding health care.”

Jonah Shacknai, CEO of Medicis pharmaceutical (maker of Restylane) suggested that legislators were allowing certain moral judgements about cosmetic surgery to affect their judgement.

Many people have taken issue with the tax because it comes at a time when the industry is just starting to recover from the economic downturn. Oklahoma cosmetic surgeon Angelo Cuzalina said the tax could be “devastating” for many practices around the U.S. It’s a tax against women and the baby boomer generation having these procedures” said Dr. Cuzalina.

Other surgeons have echoed Cuzalina’s objection and added that most of these women are middle-class working people. Dr. Renato Saltz referred to it as a “soccer mom tax” and statistics on cosmetic surgery in the U.S. basically corroborate what he says.

A recent press release about the matter included the following:

In a 2005 ASPS survey of people planning to have cosmetic surgery within the next two years, 60% of respondents reported an annual household income of $30,000-$90,000 a year. Most importantly, 40% of those reported a household income of only $30,000-$60,000. Only 10% of respondents reported a household income of over $90,000, which clearly refutes the suggestion that elective surgery taxes are “luxury” or “sin” taxes affecting a privileged few.

Follow these links to read more about the elective cosmetic medical tax.

  • Politico.com provides the tax as it is written in the reform bill
  • Nasdaq.com discusses economic effects of the bill
  • ASAPS: Plastic surgery organizations rally to oppose the bill
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