Wednesday, July 07, 2004

N.J. Mulls Cosmetic Surgery Tax
People who have unnecessary cosmetic surgery in the state will soon have to start paying a 6 percent tax for their procedure if Gov. James McGreevey signs a budget that was passed last week by the state Legislature.

It will be the first time a tax has ever been placed on a surgical procedure in America.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Wayne R. Bryant and Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, imposes a 6 percent tax on certain cosmetic medical procedures that are directed at improving the patient's appearance and that do not promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease.

Needless to say, not everyone is happy:
I think it is an extremely unfair taxation on a lot of patients who are not extremely wealthy and often save up for long periods of time for these procedures,” said Dr. Frank DiSpaltro, former president of the American Society for Plastic Surgery and a New Jersey physician. Doctors say they are worried that they will lose money and patients because of the new bill. “New Jersey already suffers from having patients go to New York or Pennsylvania for healthcare … and I think this is going to further fuel that exodus,” said Dr. Martin Moskovitz, a plastic surgeon in West Orange

This is a tax that is relatively painless for the politicians. The majority of those who have these procedures pay out-of-pocket and they will pay without much complaint, or competitive pressures will force the plastic surgeons to eat the cost. The revenues? Well there's the rub:
The tax is expected to increase state revenues by $26 million. The money is intended to go to charitable or uninsured patients, although that is not specified in the bill.
That's my problem with this. If the money was going to coverage, that's one thing, but if it's not then the fairness is called into question.
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