The Times went on, letting Dr. Phil Haeck, president elect of the Society, argue that the recession has caused fewer people to seek liposuctions and tummy tucks and that “a tax might exacerbate those declines.” Dr. Haeck raised the specter of ladies crossing the border to Mexico or even going to Thailand for their procedures and taking business away from American doctors. The jobs thing again!
The paper of record added a new twist to the discussion by bringing in the discrimination-against-women argument from the president of the National Organization for Women. She argued that many women who have lost their jobs might be considering cosmetic surgery in order to impress potential employers. Said NOW President Terry O’Neill: “And now they are going to put a tax on middle-aged women in a society that devalues them for being middle aged?”
Okay—so what’s the real story? If revenue from a tax on devices has already been sliced in half, the cosmetic surgeons may yet win, and we know that the soda tax is dead, where will the replacement revenue come from—and who will bear the burden of the tax? Ordinary citizens who don’t have big lobbyists and media organizations to help them out? And if that lost revenue isn’t found to help finance the subsidies, does that mean that people required to buy health insurance will have to pay more of the premiums themselves?
This is the money story to watch in the next few weeks as interest groups, some special and some not so special, will be working the backroom deals. We already know there may be a further push to reduce the tax on medical devices. In return for going along with the House version of the reform bill, Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana and Rep. Dan Maffei of upstate New York got a promise that Democratic leaders would work to reduce the House’s 2.5 percent tax on the devices. Just where the tax ends up—if it ends up anywhere at all—is a good lobbying story for reporters to follow. But please make sure to answer the question: Where will the money come from?