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.
And, all the rest of the more expensive, higher-class medical devices used by both men and women — such as pacemakers, ventilators, X-ray machines, powered wheelchairs and surgical needles — will be taxed, too.
Wanda Moebius, vice president of policy communications at the Advanced Medical Technology Association said, “There was an effort to protect consumers from a tax on a $6.95 box of tampons, but what about the patients who will pay taxes on devices in surgical situations? Health care reform is supposed to make it more affordable, not raising costs, through taxes on the end user.”
She also noted that the proposed taxes would be based on a medical-device producer’s revenue, not profit, which will require businesses to pay more money to the government than a tax on profits.