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Letters: Medical device tax

February 04, 2013

You fail to address the major impact this tax will have upon the private practice dentist ("Medical Device Excise Tax Prompts Questions," Jan. 7 ADA News). The tax will be applied to and paid by the suppliers and labs who will add the cost of the tax to the delivered supplies or equipment and the finished, untaxable prostheses. The tax will ultimately increase the cost of doing business for the dentist who, for fee-for-service patients, may pass this added cost on if it can be accurately and reasonably determined; but for insured patients, the dentist will eat the end use cost of the tax.

There is no way insurance providers will increase their benefit allowance to compensate for this additional cost, which will likely be more than the "modest increase" you describe. If you are not addressing this as you attempt to repeal this tax, you're doing the members a disservice. You may be assured the Obama administration and those who created the Affordable Health Care Act simply believe dentists are "rich," "didn't build" their practices and are among those who are unfairly rich and deserve to be punished by higher taxes.

Richard F. Worley, D.D.S.

Editor's note: The ADA agrees with Dr. Worley; the medical device tax is one that would unfairly be passed on to providers. Also, it is likely that many patients will ultimately bear the burden imposed by the tax. The ADA, through its Washington Office, continues to urge Congress to repeal the tax.

The ADA and a coalition of dental organizations that includes the Dental Trade Alliance and National Association of Dental Laboratories has issued two letters to the Internal Revenue Service calling attention to the way in which the tax would be applied, how medical insurance differs from dental benefits and the consequences the tax could potentially have on dental patients. The coalition's letter regarding the proposed rule stated that: "Medical device manufacturers, producers and importers are likely to pass any costs imposed by excise taxes on to providers and ultimately patients in the form of higher prices for those devices. Good oral health is an essential part of an individual's overall health and well-being. An increase in the cost of oral health care as a result of the excise tax on medical devices, including dental and orthodontic devices, will of course negatively impact access to oral health care services at a time when many are already experience economic hardship because of the slow-to-recover economy."