KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

‘Botax’ On Cosmetic Surgery Questioned

The Associated Press: "The White House and Senate Democrats have turned to a proposal to tax breast implants, tummy tucks, wrinkle-smoothing injections and other procedures as they search for ways to pay for costly health care overhaul plans." The Senate health bill, which was unveiled Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada "would slap a 5 percent excise tax on elective cosmetic surgeries and procedures to help pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured." The national tax is projected to raise $6 billion over 10 years (Hirschfeld Davis, 11/19).

Kaiser Health News: "Plastic surgeons decried the proposal, saying their practices were battered by the recession and are just beginning to recover. ... About 12 million cosmetic procedures and surgeries - which typically aren't covered by insurance - were performed last year, at a total cost of $10.3 billion, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons." The tax is already levied at a rate of 6 percent per procedure in New Jersey (Galewitz, 11/19).

Roll Call reports that the president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said the tax may not raise that much because "revenue estimates from the tax might be overstated since the demand for plastic surgery has fallen by between 30 and 45 percent recently because of the recession." The president-elect said 60 percent of women who get cosmetic surgery have annual incomes between $30,000 and $90,000. "The tax is not included in the House health care bill, which is largely funded by new taxes on higher income people" (Roth, 11/19).

The Wall Street Journal: "The tax is on elective procedures, and would not apply to any procedure to correct birth defects or issues arising from disease, accidents or trauma" (Mundy, 11/19).

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