The United States is trying hard to find money to fund their huge overhaul of health care which will cost an estimated $871 billion. Senator Harry Reid’s proposed bill included seventeen tax increases and new taxes. One tax that was included on the proposal raised a cry of outrage: the ‘Botax’. This tax was outlined as a 5 percent excise tax on elective cosmetic surgeries. The outcry was enough to squash the proposed tax.
The proposed tax was expected to raise at least $6 billion over the next ten years. However, cosmetic surgery providers did not want their patients to have to pay that money. An aggressive lobbying campaign was organized by 22 surgical societies including the American Medical Association and Botox maker, Allergen Inc. The campaign fought fiercely to derail this idea by focusing on the fact that the tax was unfairly geared toward women.
Nearly 90 percent of all cosmetic procedures are performed on women, 91 percent of which are between the ages of 19 and 64. Some have called the tax sexist. Terry O’neil, president of the National Organization for Women, told the Times that, during this time of recession, many middle aged women are using cosmetic surgery to help them to stay competitive in the shrinking job market. She also said, “[the government] is going to put a tax on middle-aged women in a society that devalues them for being middle-aged.”
Dr. Renato Saltz, president of the ASAPS, said, “This tax is effectively a “soccer Mom” tax that will adversely impact mainstream American wives and mothers, who are the majority of plastic surgery patients. As doctors, we understand and appreciate the need for health care reform, but taxing physicians and cosmetic surgery procedures to pay for the reform is not realistic or beneficial.” These comments and others made by the campaign seem to have struck the right chord. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid heard the chord and removed the tax from the bill.
Thus, many people have exhaled a sigh of relief, knowing that the proposed tax is no longer an issue. However, Dr. Saltz warns, “I’m glad the cosmetic surgery tax-at least for now- is out, but we are not ready to celebrate just yet.” This proposed tax was a wake-up call to the cosmetic surgery industry. Protecting their patients from unfair treatment is one of the responsibilities that doctors hold on their shoulders. Cosmetic surgeons hope to be able to protect their patients from the possibility that this unfair tax will be proposed again.
The Botax was replaced on the bill by a tax on services provided by tanning salons. The tanning industry is of course outraged by this as well. The proposed tax is a 10 percent sales tax.