A new “mommy tax” in ObamaCare shows pitfalls; Update: Device list linked

posted at 12:55 pm on October 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Senate proposal for ObamaCare at first included a tax on all “medical devices,” a broad categorization that would have imposed fees on such staples as tongue depressors and tampons, according to Amanda Carpenter at the Washington Times.  Only after a backlash from critics did Sen. Max Baucus amend his plan to only tax Class II devices starting at a retail price of $100, and all Class III and above devices.  However, that includes another staple for mothers, especially working mothers of infants, who want to raise their children on breast milk while earning a living:

When Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus proposed taxing medical devices to raise $40 billion over the next 10 years for his health care plan, opponents started digging in and looking at what would be taxed. It turned out feminine products, like tampons, were classified as class I medical devices and thus, the “tampon tax” was born.

The backlash was quick and severe enough against the idea that the committee quickly drafted new language that would exempt those necessities from the tax, along with all other class I devices, like tongue depressors, and decided to only tax class II medical devices and higher that cost [more] than $100.

But, just wait for the revolt to start again because women will still pay a price under the new structure. Particularly new moms who want to use a powered breast pump to bottle milk for their babies. Those devices, labeled class II, typically retails for more than $100.

Has anyone taken a look at the devices to which this new tax will apply?  There are more than 2900 of them, according to the FDA’s listing, which I took the time to download and sort today.  Included in this list are items both ubiquitous and arcane, but they all will cost us more to fund Obamacare.  Some examples:

  • Dentures, both partial and full (Class VI)
  • Fetal cell-screening kit (Class IV)
  • Female condoms, single use (Class III)
  • Treponemal syphilis test (Class IV)
  • HIV saliva test kit (Class IV)
  • Patient data storage and transmission software (Class VI)
  • Stair-climbing wheelchair (Class III)
  • Inflatable penis prosthetic (Class III)
  • Hip, knee, ankle, breast prosthetics (Class III)
  • Soft contact lenses, extended wear (Class III)
  • IUDs (Class III)
  • Dialysis catheters (Class III)
  • Dental X-rays (Class II)
  • Sickle-cell anemia tests (Class II)
  • Mammograms (Class II)

And so on.  Those Class II items are presumably costlier than $100, although the FDA does not have pricing lists for them.

Some of these items are explicitly counterproductive.  For instance, all dialysis gets funded by Medicare under its ESRD program.  Imposing taxes on dialysis catheters will only increase the cost to the government for dialysis patients, which already exceeds $9300 per month per patient.  Also, the administration keeps talking about saving costs through the use of digital technology for storing patient records, but this tax will make it more expensive than otherwise for providers to comply.

Every time our health-care providers have to use these items, they will pay more for them — and pass that cost onto us.  We may see that less directly thanks to the removal of the tampon tax, but the thousands of other items needed for our care will cost us more.  We need to understand the scope of this tax before it breaks our backs.

Update: I’ve cleaned up the spreadsheet of medical devices and output them into a PDF.  Peruse, and perhaps post what you think are the items that will most catch the attention of people unaware of the massive tax increases this represents.


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If you earn less than $250,000.00 you will not see a dime in new taxes.

jukin on October 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Of course not. It will be imbedded in the price increase, like a VAT. You’ll never see it, but you’ll damn sure pay it. And since you’ll never see it, they can increase it at will with none the wiser.

Phil-351 on October 7, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Pacemakers? Cochlear Implants?

Cheney/Limbaugh tax. At least they can afford it.

How is a mammogram a device? Are they gonna tax a procedure or test everytime it uses a medical device?

lonestar1 on October 7, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Taxing mammograms, vibrators and inflatable penis prosthetics?
Do they hate women?

lonestar1 on October 7, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Taxing tampons.

Tampons.

… tampons.

spmat on October 7, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Jed_Eckert on October 7, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Those were my thoughts too (I assume insulin pumps are Class III or above). Diabetics better stock up on pumps if this travesty passes.

batter on October 7, 2009 at 2:15 PM

I see “Needle Destruction” under class 3. I’m not sure you want to tax that.

Also, “Glue,Surgical,Arteries” under class 3. The leading cause of death is heart disease, so this one should bring in a load of money.

askheaves on October 7, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Page 36

System, Abortion, Vacuum

Tax something to get less of it? Hmmmm…
I wonder which side the left will take on this one?

“Planned Parenthood tax”

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:15 PM

What’s the prognosis for toilet paper? Probably only if you buy in bulk!

jeanie on October 7, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Reid told a story about Baucas yesterday…which reveals how stupid this man is

he was running a 50 mile marathon, fell and hit his head enough that it was bleeding. He got up and ran 42 miles with this injury. Several days later he had to be hospitialized for the injury

that’s definately the guy we want to put in charge of our healthcare

r keller on October 7, 2009 at 2:16 PM

If you earn less than $250,000.00 you will not see a dime in new taxes.

jukin on October 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM

As if that’s a justification for taxing tampons as a medical device.

And when you’ve taxed everyone making greater than 250k into the income brackets less than 250k, what then? Hmm? Any ideas? Or will they just magically continue to expend the effort to maintain that income solely for your benefit.

Moron. Get out of my country, you covetous rat.

spmat on October 7, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Ace bandages?
Regular bandaids vs the Hello Kitty or Disney kind?

Badger40 on October 7, 2009 at 1:50 PM

I looked up bandaids. It’s under adhesive bandages and it was Class 1, so we dodged a bullet there.

But, there’s pacemaker batteries which are Class 3 (Code DSZ).

Also, Lipoprotein, Low Density, Removal. Class 3, no code. Is that liposuction?

Gowns, patient? On the list! I wouldn’t be surprised if WH supplied lab coats are in there somewhere.

Luckily, Pelosi is safe because Botulinum toxin, Class A is only a cosmetic device and not on the list yet. It’s being tried to control for uncontrollable eye blinking, so she might force it to be upgraded.

Dusty on October 7, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Page 25

Monitor, Cardiac, Fetal
Monitor, Fetal Doppler Ultrasound
Monitor, Heart Rate, Fetal, Ultrasonic
Monitor, Heart Sound, Fetal, Ultrasonic
Monitor, Heart-Valve Movement, Fetal, Ultrasonic

Seriously… just run a search on “fetal”. As if having a baby isn’t expensive enough…

Also:

Mold, Vaginal

Ewwwwwww.

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Soft lens contacts/accessories? SERIOUSLY??

Automated Chromosome Analyzer – used to detect cancers as well as as Down’s Syndrome and other problems.

All those taxed assays are used in drug development to analyze the components of a virus or antibodies, etc.

and interesting enough – the abortion tax:

Cannula, suction, uterine . .

ace tomato on October 7, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Oh no, my last post got eaten.

Was it because I said “vag!nal”?

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:22 PM

I am starting to have a feeling of a lot of moderated comments on this thread if that’s the case.

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Actually, what if there was a straight up abortion tax?

How much money would that be annually?

ace tomato on October 7, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Mammograms? Are they kidding? It’s plain that ole Max has never had one. The only device , other than the x-ray apparatus which is already in place, is that which Mother Nature gave one or didn’t. LOL! What kind of idiots have we spawned up there?

jeanie on October 7, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Probably includes replacements for the movable parts, xray film and/or digital storage, video monitors, etc.

Tanya on October 7, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Anna on October 7, 2009 at 2:00 PM

I am wondering about underwire bras? Could they be considered a ‘medical device’?

jeanie on October 7, 2009 at 2:25 PM

All sorts of contact lens are included, including disposable, daily wear, soft contact. Oh and devices for lens laser surgery, probably like the Lasic(sp?) surgery?

Look under lens.

Dusty on October 7, 2009 at 2:27 PM

So old Max fell on his head. Explains a lot.

jeanie on October 7, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Ok, I get it, this is where we’re gonna see all those “savings” in the cost of healthca. . .

Wait a minute. . .what the hell. . . WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason Coleman on October 7, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Answering my own thoughts: I took a look at the FDA list and it looks like insulin pumps (if I’m reading it correctly) are Class II devices.

batter on October 7, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Inflatable penis prosthetic (Class III)

Dude that is mean!
.
Of course it is a safe tax as I doubt many men will protest it.
.
Still taxing a dude on his stiffy maker…just wrong

LincolntheHun on October 7, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Problem: Medical expenses are too high.
Solution: Tax all medical devices.

Note to people supporting this bill – the drafters think you are idiots…well, maybe they have a point.

TexAz on October 7, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Both saline and silicone breast implants (Prosthesis, Breast) are, even for reconstructive purposes. That ought to get Hollywood up in arms.

Dusty on October 7, 2009 at 2:33 PM

But look how many medical devices were SAVED!!

/sarc

ace tomato on October 7, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Unconscionable.

Get the F off our bodies and wallets! If a pregnant woman can elect to terminate her child in utero under the guise of privacy then this whole govt “health care plan” can go straight to H!

Ticks me off. Dirty lib scumbags!

Buckeye Babe on October 7, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Oh, hell, let’s just tax oxygen. It’s an absolute medical necessity. Unlimited possibility.

jimmy2shoes on October 7, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Do they hate women?

lonestar1 on October 7, 2009 at 2:14 PM

In a word: yes.

Blacksmith8 on October 7, 2009 at 2:48 PM

New York City is releasing the results of a multi-state investigation into this activity: “Gun Show Undercover.” We sent investigators with hidden cameras to seven gun shows across Ohio, Tennessee and Nevada, and we found out just how easy it is for criminals and the mentally ill to walk in and buy guns — no questions asked.

faraway on October 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM

This will, of course be used as reasoning to make it illegal for the law abiding citizen to also be armed.

Gives one insight into the kind of mind that sees logic in taxing medical devices to reduce health care costs.

RDuke on October 7, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Are penis prosthetics really medical? I thought they were pornographic props…

Tim Burton on October 7, 2009 at 2:53 PM

This will, of course be used as reasoning to make it illegal for the law abiding citizen to also be armed.

RDuke on October 7, 2009 at 2:50 PM

“Come and Take It” – Goliad, TX

Blacksmith8 on October 7, 2009 at 2:57 PM

The orthodontic supplies caught my eye. With three kids in braces right now, I know how often a visit to the orthodontist is required to keep all the brackets/wires intact.

A quick peruasal of the list tells me one thing, look out ladies, it looks like you are going to be footing most of the health care bill yourselves.

Your American health care plan will be great, as long as your not a woman or you don’t get sick.

caygeon on October 7, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Answering my own thoughts: I took a look at the FDA list and it looks like insulin pumps (if I’m reading it correctly) are Class II devices.

batter on October 7, 2009 at 2:31 PM

They run in excess of $8,000. The associated continuous monitor runs ~$1500. Monthly supplies run ~$300+.

All > $100.

Jed_Eckert on October 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

THIS PISSES ME OFF. What is NOT on this list?

I’ve attempted to inflame my liberal mom friends on FB by sharing this info. They’re very big (as am I) on breastfeeding and I hope seeing that the government is trying to make it even less affordable opens their eyes to the error of taxes and Obamacare.

I hate this plan. HATE. I’d be better off trading IDs with an illegal alien. At least then it would be crappy care for free.

citrus on October 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

New York City is releasing the results of a multi-state investigation into this activity: “Gun Show Undercover.” We sent investigators with hidden cameras to seven gun shows across Ohio, Tennessee and Nevada, and we found out just how easy it is for criminals and the mentally ill to walk in and buy guns — no questions asked.
faraway on October 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Why are they hiring mentally ill criminal investigators?

Juno77 on October 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

If you look up “Idiot” in the dictionary you find pictures of prezbo and Baucus. What morons!

ultracon on October 7, 2009 at 3:05 PM

● Sickle-cell anemia tests (Class II)

This is racist!

The Notorious G.O.P on October 7, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Side question, WTF is a “Testicular Hypothermia Device”?

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Would that be an ice pack?

Mangy Scot on October 7, 2009 at 3:08 PM

Oh no, my last post got eaten.

Was it because I said “vag!nal”?

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:22 PM

/snort
I really want to comment, but I know I would get banned.

Mangy Scot on October 7, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Remember all those saving Obama promised by going to electronic health records …

TORONTO – Ontario’s health minister bowed to months of opposition pressure and tendered his resignation Tuesday on the eve of a report into how the province spent $1 billion over 10 years to create electronic health records.

J_Crater on October 7, 2009 at 3:14 PM

OBAMA: Requiring insurance companies to cover preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies “makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.”

Explain how since there will be a tax added to mammograms?

mizflame98 on October 7, 2009 at 3:17 PM

I say start mailing these bozos boxes of tampons** in protest, like those radio show guys who flooded offices with bags of pork rinds. Nothing like having to sort through a giant pile of feminine products to really hammer home the point that their tax system is stupid.

Now, will they listen? Of course not, but it would be funny, and therefore worth it.

**Disclaimer for the squeamish: New and unopened, of course.

DangerHighVoltage on October 7, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Mammagrams are gonna be taxed. Huh. Don’t get breast cancer ladies. Either way your gonna pay for it.

billy4046 on October 7, 2009 at 3:32 PM

How many of us wear contacts? Lot’s of money to be made screwing us on that.

William Teach on October 7, 2009 at 3:33 PM

I say start mailing these bozos boxes of tampons**

DangerHighVoltage on October 7, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Being of the male part of the species, I can attest to the natural reaction of males to those sort of commodities. Once, and only once in 17 years of marriage, did I not scan the grocery list prior to entering the store.

While it must be a source of great entertainment for women, let me tell you it is absolutely agonizing for a man to shop in the “female hygiene products” aisle, searching for the exact needed item. This will ultimately result in the male reading the label of every box in the aisle. Add to that the realization that help may be required. Men will volunteer to ask for directions before asking for help in “that” aisle.

Spontaneous human combustion would seem preferrable.

BobMbx on October 7, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Mangy Scot on October 7, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Behave. :-)

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Also:

Mold, Vaginal
Ewwwwwww.

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:20 PM

I give up. Whaddya do with this? Christmas presents?

“Oh look! Its a copy of Debbies’ hoo-hoo! How thoughtful!”

BobMbx on October 7, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Of course it is a safe tax as I doubt many men will protest claim it.
.
Still taxing a dude on his stiffy maker…just wrong

LincolntheHun on October 7, 2009 at 2:32 PM

FIFY

BobMbx on October 7, 2009 at 3:39 PM

How many of us wear contacts? Lot’s of money to be made screwing us on that.

I’m surprised they left off/missed standard prescription glasses, or I just didn’t see it…

DaSaintFan on October 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Taxing mammograms, vibrators and inflatable penis prosthetics?
Do they hate women?

lonestar1 on October 7, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Dems are misogynists.

I wonder what kind of dent this will do to sales of those items advertised on WE in the early morning hours.

Where are the feminists?

BuckeyeSam on October 7, 2009 at 4:14 PM

A tax on people who can’t see well. That sounds fair.

SarahW on October 7, 2009 at 4:15 PM

This is so absurd. It is hard to believe that anyone could call a tampon a medical device…you would think they would be ashamed.

Terrye on October 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM

You see by taxing Health Care more, they make it more affordable. Simple erm…math?

ronsfi on October 7, 2009 at 4:22 PM

I’d like to thank the Democrats for taking IDIOCY to new depths…

Khun Joe on October 7, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Oh, hell, let’s just tax oxygen. It’s an absolute medical necessity. Unlimited possibility.

jimmy2shoes on October 7, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Check the list. They are taxing Oxygen.

Conserver, Oxygen
Generator, Oxygen, Portable
Medevac Use Oxygen Generator
Monitor, Oxygen, Cutaneous, For Infant Not Under Anesthesia
Oxygen Administration Kit
Oxygenator, Cardiopulmonary Bypass
Tent, Oxygen, Electrically Powered
Unit, Liquid-Oxygen, Portable
Chamber, Oxygen, Topical, Extremity

See the bold and italicized entry. They are literally taxing oxygen!

Sackett on October 7, 2009 at 4:56 PM

I hate this plan. HATE. I’d be better off trading IDs with an illegal alien. At least then it would be crappy care for free.
citrus on October 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

“Hate” is a good word.

Buy Danish on October 7, 2009 at 4:57 PM

At least then it would be crappy care for free.
citrus on October 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Que pasa!

BobMbx on October 7, 2009 at 5:03 PM

See the bold and italicized entry. They are literally taxing oxygen!

Sackett on October 7, 2009 at 4:56 PM

First it was carbon dioxide, now it is oxygen. Next it will be neon, which is gonna really screw up the lighting down at the bar. Maybe, just maybe, that will be enough to trigger the revolt.

jimmy2shoes on October 7, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Stamp tax, Tea tax… but even King George never thought of an Oxygen tax.

We were better off under the tyranny of King George than we are under the tyranny of this Congress.

How did it come to this…

Sackett on October 7, 2009 at 5:18 PM

The Future Of American Health Care — “Just Boil It and Reuse It!”

“You’ve seen evidence of it — you can’t turn on your TV without seeing it!”

(…) Even after the governments own FDA changed the labeling of catheters making them one time use products they were not covered!

Since the governments centrally planned Medicare system determined reuse was okay almost all private insurance companies followed suit! With the change in the ruling most insurances have changed their coverage as well.

This went on for DECADES!

It took people getting upset and finally getting a congressman to act — that is not how we want our medical care coverage determined, via congressional fiat?

The key point — when the government sets rules of coverage, for whatever reason (and you just know it will get political — God forbid you get a disease out of favor with today’s political will) the entire industry follows.
(…)
David

LifeTrek on October 7, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Page 46 of PDF

Pacemakers.

Abby Adams on October 7, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Don’t worry. You can take a pain pill instead…

/sarc

InCali on October 7, 2009 at 5:24 PM

If you earn less than $250,000.00 you will not see a dime in new taxes.

jukin on October 7, 2009 at 1:12 PM

Of course not. It will be imbedded in the price increase, like a VAT. You’ll never see it, but you’ll damn sure pay it. And since you’ll never see it, they can increase it at will with none the wiser.

Phil-351 on October 7, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Can you say John Galt? Can you say barter? Can you say black market? Can you say pioneer self-sufficiency?

PrincipledPilgrim on October 7, 2009 at 5:28 PM

vibrators and inflatable penis prosthetics?
Do they hate women?
lonestar1 on October 7, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Can’t a girl just have a little fun, without taxing it? Fun tax, oxygen tax…this is madness!

HellCat on October 7, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Still taxing a dude on his stiffy maker…just wrong

LincolntheHun on October 7, 2009 at 2:32 PM

The Democratic version of giving you the shaft.

Yoop on October 7, 2009 at 6:22 PM

how much is the proposed tax?

sarainitaly on October 7, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Folk, this is a disaster. Please, hear me out. This will absolutely kill thousands and thousands of jobs. Mine included. I work for the medical device industry and I am telling you that our CEO has already contacted us and let us know, in no uncertain terms, that this will mean job cuts, and deep ones at that.
Do any of you think for one minute that these companies will absorb the cost of the surtaxes that are being proposed on this industry? It will mean a higher cost for the consumer, job cuts within the industry, and an end to cutting edge technology. I cannot emphasize enough how devastating this will be for innovation and medical advances in this country. How willing will the government be to pay for the necessary equipment to keep premature children alive? How willing will the government be to pay for defibrillators for patients who are having arrhythmias?

sandlin71 on October 7, 2009 at 7:35 PM

“Don’t tax our teeth!”

That should be our main tag line.

Sackett on October 7, 2009 at 11:37 PM

I give up. Whaddya do with this? Christmas presents?

“Oh look! Its a copy of Debbies’ hoo-hoo! How thoughtful!”

BobMbx on October 7, 2009 at 3:38 PM

This thread has to be done with a comment like that.

tcn on October 8, 2009 at 1:19 AM

•Stair-climbing wheelchair (Class III)
•Hip, knee, ankle, breast prosthetics (Class III)

Nothing spells financial bounty like someone unable to climb the stairs or needing hip, knee or ankle prosthetics

Tax the hell out of them!
/S

RJL on October 8, 2009 at 1:54 AM

Does that include vibrators an penal implants?

MSGTAS on October 8, 2009 at 10:24 AM

thank god vibrators are not on the list, but that is on purpose since the gay community has such input in what the entire population wants.

workingforpigs on October 8, 2009 at 11:15 AM

This will cause the medical device industry to move entirely out of this country, but this administration really does not care. More jobs lost, more companies that pay taxes lost…. so after all of this who do you think is going to pay for all the big government programs? most likely the two guys standing holding the american flag that are left.

workingforpigs on October 8, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Ed, I suspect guys will be as upset with the anti-prostate cancer PSA test tax as I am about the mammogram tax. These are all a bad idea, especially if the government is paying for it all in the end.

I suspect that is where the CBO may have missed a beat or two in its analysis. It’s not tax income to the government if the government has to pay the tax itself. (It’s a rather thinly disguised trick to drive private insurance out of the market place.)

{^_^}

herself on October 8, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Jed_Eckert on October 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

I re-read Ed’s post this morning and you are absolutely correct. Insulin pumps class II and cost more than $100 which makes then subject to the tax.

With mammograms getting hit with the tax too, I told my wife that she may want to consider going to this guy, after all.

batter on October 8, 2009 at 2:38 PM

This reminds me of when the levee collapsed in New Orleans. Before they shut down the pumps, they were pumping the flood water back into the canal which had the break. The cost of medical devices is rising so we tax them and use the money to finance health insurance to pay for them. Why not tax all health care to pay for it?

Morons and deceivers!

flataffect on October 10, 2009 at 4:27 PM

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