Senate Health Bill Would Levy Tax On Cosmetic Surgery
Major provisions in the Senate health bill include a proposed tax on cosmetic surgery and new language on abortion.
Senator Harry Reid's proposed 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic procedures was "quickly dubbed the 'botax,'" The New York Times reports. The provision would "raise an estimated $5 billion over 10 years toward the projected $849 billion cost of the health care legislation, and it is certain to be opposed by plastic surgeons and their patients. The tax would be paid by the patient receiving the cosmetic procedure and collected by the doctor. If the patient fails to pay the tax, the medical professional who performed the procedure would be liable, according to the bill. The tax would be owed regardless of whether the procedure is paid for out of pocket or by insurance." The tax, however, "would not apply to any cosmetic surgery to correct a congenital deformity or any disfigurement resulting from accident, injury or disease" (Herszenhorn, 11/18).
Meanwhile, in "seeking to fend off a major revolt by supporters of abortion rights, Democratic leaders in the Senate have infuriated abortion opponents with their new version of health care legislation," The New York Times reports in a separate story. "The Senate bill drops some of the restrictive abortion language that was part of the House health care bill. But it contains an ambiguous provision that could bar any government-run insurance plan, or public option, from providing abortion coverage. The Senate bill says that no federal funding can be used to pay for abortion coverage, which is language that abortion-rights supporters have accepted for decades. But it also says that any public option could not provide insurance for abortions unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services determined that a payment plan would not use federal money," which "seems open to interpretation." Decisions could vary depending on whether the administration opposed or supported abortion rights. The language of the provision "seemed to satisfy some Senators who support abortion rights," but The National Right to Life Committee "called the Senate language 'completely unacceptable' (Seelye, 11/18).