The United States Senate voted 79-20 as part of their 2014 budget to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that would have imposed a tax on medical-device sales, including breast and other implants. Repeal of the proposed medical device tax was bipartisan. Many Senators realize this provision would cost jobs at medical device producers. Additionally, the tax would increase cost of care and decrease availability of care, effects contrary to the intended purpose of the Affordable Care Act.
Revenue from the medical-device tax would have paid for part of the signature achievement of President Obama’s first term. Repeal of the tax does not become law because as part of a tax and spend 2014 budget bill passed by the Democrat controlled Senate, it stands no chance of passing the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Still, the symbolic vote is a victory for patients, physicians, and medical-device makers because it signifies overwhelming opposition to adverse impact of the medical-device tax. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) said she opposed the tax, despite its connection to the health-care law. “It still isn’t right because it creates too much of a burden,” Sen. Klobuchar said, asserting the health-care overhaul won’t generate enough new customers to offset the costs for medical-device companies.
For both cosmetic implants and for breast reconstruction after mastectomy, the device tax would have increased costs, which are already among the highest worldwide due to the stifling regulatory and taxation environment in which American surgeons operate, and in which American patients are cared for. Facial and other body implants would also have been subject to additional taxation. Each and every regulatory board, agency, and committee that mandates accredited providers’ participation charges for that privilege. For the federal government to obligate cosmetic patients to pay for others’ medical care amounts to extortion, and to further abridgement of American liberty. The tax is contrary to constitutional principles, and for that reason alone, the measure should have been justly repealed.
Steve Laverson, MD