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New Health Care Plan Includes a Tax on Cosmetic Procedures

Posted: November 20, 2009

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Lobbyists and aides familiar with the proposed 5% cosmetic surgery tax said Allergan and Johnson & Johnson, along with others in the industry, helped persuade lawmakers to slash it from a 10% levy, which had been projected to cost about $11 billion over a decade.

Accounts vary on who first dreamed up the Botax. It came out of a late-July meeting on health care that included Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the finance committee chairman, and Peter Orszag, Obama's budget director, although neither man's staff acknowledges having hatched the scheme.

Now that it's in the Senate legislation, plastic surgeons and the cosmetic product industry are dusting off their arguments against it. Opponents cite as a cautionary tale a similar 6% tax in effect in New Jersey. Haeck contends that tax has cost the state $3.39 for every $1 collected. Whatever money would be raised, he said, would come from doctors and patients at a time they can ill-afford it, given the recession and rising unemployment. "These women come in, they've lost their jobs, they don't have the money for a face lift," he said.

Associated Press, November 19, 2009