March 24, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today offered an amendment to the health care reconciliation bill that would eliminate the tax on assistive devices for children and those with disabilities from the new $20 billion excise tax on medical devices.
“President Obama campaigned on the promise to not raise taxes on individuals making less than $250,000 per year, yet taxing life-saving medical devices like pacemakers will do just that, and it is outrageous,” Inhofe said. “These taxes will be passed along to the patient, regardless of age or income level, in the form of higher prices and higher premiums, making it more difficult for individuals to afford important medical help. People with disabilities, amputees, those needing pediatric care, and anyone requiring the use of an assistive device, including our service men and women, will otherwise see their costs go up because of this tax. It’s just not right.”
Section 9009 of the recently passed health care bill imposes a new tax on assistive devices which includes items like pacemakers, ventilators, prosthetics, and incubators for premature babies. The reconciliation bill currently being debated does nothing to rid the underlying bill of this tax, but actually expands it to include more medical devices, such as tongue depressors, elastic bandages, most hand-held dental instruments, and examination gloves. The Inhofe amendment will strike these new taxes on assistive devices for children and individuals with disabilities from the health care bill.
Section 9011 of the recently passed health care bill calls for an after-the-fact study of the impacts this tax has on our veterans. Inhofe considers a study after the damage is done too little, too late. Congress recently found that “extremity injuries are the number one battlefield injury” with 82 percent of injuries from the Global War on Terror involving the extremities. Taxing our service members in order for them to receive necessary treatment to overcome these injuries is unconscionable.
Today, there are nearly 2 million Americans that suffer from the loss of limbs. Much of the prosthetic technology research and development is being conducted by the University of Oklahoma and by Oklahoma companies such as OrthoCare Innovations, Hanger Prosthetics, Martin Bionics, and Sabolich Prosthetics. Development of this technology for our veterans can also be applied to civilians suffering from limb loss.