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Botax Removed From the Health Care Bill

In the midst of a tsunami of backlash from the public, the proposed tax on elective cosmetic procedures has been removed from the health care reform bill.

Thousands spoke out against it, and were heard. The proposed tax on elective cosmetic procedures has been removed from the latest version of the proposed health care reform bill. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the change on Saturday, December 19, saying that he would replace the "Botax" with the "Tantax," a 10% tax on indoor tanning. According to the Congressional Budget Office which spoke favorably of the change, "The 5 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery was eliminated, and a 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning services was added."

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Many physicians and aesthetic organizations spoke out in opposition to the Botax. Those who proposed the tax were under the misguided assumption that the tax would greatly affect the wealthiest Americans while leaving the middle class largely unaffected. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) released statistics showing that the largest consumer of aesthetic procedures are the working women of the middle class. They stated that 86% of elective aesthetic procedures are purchased by women. 91% of those are between the working ages of 19-64. Further, 60% of all people planning to have cosmetic medical procedures report a household income of between $30,000 and $90,000.

Dr. Robert A. Weiss became President of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) in 2008. He has appeared on such TV shows as 20/20 and The Today Show and is a featured speaker for the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. In a Facebook posting, he stated, "I was envisioning a nightmare of having IRS agents reviewing charts in our office going over personal information." Reviews of patient healthcare information go against the rules of doctor/patient confidentiality.

Many providers offered different opinions as to why the Botax would not work and may in fact be harmful. The argument most repeated was that the tax was discriminatory against women. Terry O'Neill, the president of The National Organization for Women (NOW), spoke out against the proposed Botax. Referring to the large number of women who are unemployed and feel the need to impress potential employers she said, “They have to find work... And they are going for Botox or going for eye work, because the fact is we live in a society that punishes women for getting older.”

Physicians and aesthetic providers can breathe a sigh of relief, while providers of indoor tanning begin holding theirs. At 10%, the Tantax is expected to raise only about half of the amount of the Botax. The amended bill also includes a 0.9% percentage-point increase in the Medicare tax for individuals who earn more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. This is up from the previously proposed 0.5% tax.