Cosmetic surgery procedures may be taxed

August 27, 2009 12:32:37 PM PDT
As the national debate over health care reform rages on, lawmakers continue to search for ways to fund the plan's estimated $1 trillion price tag. Among the more controversial ideas is a tax on cosmetic surgeries which has some plastic surgeons and their patients crying 'foul.'Lawmakers are looking for ways to pay for a trillion dollar healthcare reform. One of the more creative ideas the US Senate is considering is a 10 percent tax on cosmetic surgeries that are not medically required. That would include things like facelifts, tummy tucks, breast implants, nose jobs and Botox injections. The idea is not popular.

"I think it would deter a lot of patients from having additional procedures," said cosmetic surgery patient Francis Schock.

Schock is not alone. The so-called "Bo-tax" has some cosmetic surgeons calling it narrow-minded and unfair.

"You're taxing people with this assumption that they've got extra income, disposable income to use for these procedures. You're kind of considering that they're wealthy and that's less than that is far from the truth," said cosmetic surgeon Dr. Camille Cash.

Amelia Jeffries is considering a cosmetic procedure. She says it's a decision she's carefully planned for almost a year.

"I started saving for it. I've been saving for about 9 months now," said Jeffries.

There's no question that cosmetic surgery is popular. Americans spend more than $12 billion every year on a variety of cosmetic procedures, enough money to turn the heads of some hungry members of Congress.

"The house bill does not cover any kind of tax on certain procedures," said US Representative Gene Green. "The senate bill, they've talked about that and there has been discussion on lots of thing. Soft drink tax, sugar tax, things like that."

But Dr. Cash says the "Bo-Tax" idea has already failed in New Jersey where it was introduced five years ago.

"The New Jersey Congress actually voted to repeal that tax. The governor vetoed it. So even in the one state that's tried this ... it hasn't been very successful," said Dr. Cash.

"If this thing were to pass, it's going to be another nine months I'm going to have to wait to get everything done," said Jeffries.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter.

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