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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
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Tax on Prosthetics

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That's Obamacare for you.... :mad:

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I'm confused. The original linked article seems to be implying that veterans are being singled out. I was under the impression that vets are able to get their prosthetics funded through the Veterans Administration. Is this not correct? I have an acquaintance who was wounded in Afghanistan. He gets his C-Legs through the VA gratis. He even has a modified Segway, which was provided free of charge through a Vet-related charity.

The March health care bill ends pre-existing conditions and lifts the lifetime cap on benefits, two items that dramatically impact all amputees (particularly younger amps like myself). If I'm weighing the pros and cons, I'd say that those two items more than offset a 2.3% tax on medical equipment (which was really just an arbitrary political decision designed to drum up funding for this giant entitlement program). Also, I read that the tax isn't going to be collected until 2013, so if this is the same item, the article could be mistaken on that point.

Personally, I can't see how the tax will affect me in any significant material way (or the vast majority of amps, for that matter). I have health insurance, for which I pay a handsome premium (plus deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments). My maximum out-of-pocket each year is $2,500. I suspect that most amps are similar situated. Perhaps the health insurance rates will increase slightly as a result of this excise tax. But honestly, it's not like the health insurance companies haven't been arbitrarily jacking up their premiums every single year anyway (thus creating the need for some type of a political health care reform effort).

I've heard a similar tune from most of my conservative-leaning friends regarding the health care debate. It goes something like this: "Well, yeah, SOMETHING needed to be done, but not this. We need to go back to the drawing board and do this thing the right way." Which is all really just coded language for killing the bill and keeping the status quo. Something did need to be done. The Republicans had six years to implement "SOMETHING." They did nothing (except pass Medicare Part D, which they neglected to fund). Well, the Democrats did SOMETHING. It might turn out to be a huge positive for the nation. It might turn out to be a disaster. But they acted in a situation that required action. And it's going to cost many of them their political careers.

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From the article:

On March 24 2010, Senate Democrats rejected an amendment offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to the healthcare bill. This amendment (SA 3644) would have prevented the medical device tax from hitting veterans covered by the Veterans Healthcare Program or TRICARE for Life. This amendment was rejected by a vote of 44-54. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein voted in favor of retaining the tax for veterans.

Thanks Obama, but you can keep the change.

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I've not had much (read: ANY) time to study this story...I'm still frantically packing for my move, which is happening in just over a week. However, I'm wondering if the tax is actually being charged to the vets personally, or if it's just planned to become part of the "fee" being charged for prosthetics. In that case, Hatch's amendment may have been intended to save the government (in this case, the VA administration) the cost of the additional 2.3% and wouldn't really have a personal impact on vets. Just wondering........

I have a personal tendency to go along with mikeybucs' point of view here, based solely on my own experience with the health care reform plan and my own insurance plan. Since I have had "preexisting conditions" all my life, many of which have been very expensive, I'm more concerned about that--and happier that it's on its way out--than I am about a small tax on what is, after all, a product. (Now granted, our limbs are expensive products, and yes it would be nice if there were no tax added...but I tend to think of the majority of my taxes as being my "bill" for living in this country and having the advantages of citizenship here. And if some of them go for things I don't personally approve of--like war, for example--well, that's also a "cost" of my living here and benefiting from life as a US citizen.)

I watched my parents work multiple jobs, go deeper and deeper into debt, and even lose a home from the expense of keeping their eldest child alive...and yes, it made me feel awfully guilty about what my poor health was doing to the family. All through that time, we had "pretty good" employer-provided health insurance. It makes me actually quite glad that someone is finally at least making an attempt at improving matters.

Just my own two cents worth......... :smile:

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Guess I am strictly on the other side of this debate :smile:

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Just because something is in print does not make it true. Our vets, I am one, pay nothing for their prosthetics, nothing, nada.

If there is truly a tax on these items it is the VA that pays the tax.

It is enough that we here on this forum are amps, we have banded together to help each other out and, please believe me, if this

forum turns political it would be disastrous. Already I see "sides" being taken. Let's leave politics at the door and continue

taking care of each other.

:-)

Peter

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Good point, Peter...and I'm certainly not denying that there can be more than one side to every story.

We're primarily here as "support" and "information" for one another, and I'd hope that all of us would be able to respect everyone's opinions and get on with the "supporting." :smile:

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I didn't bring this up as a political issue, but as information that many of us were unaware of. It is an issue that affects all of us here who are in the US. I am currently corresponding with Kendra Calhoun of the ACA to see where they stand on this issue and how they interpret the law.

I also agree with Mike on insurance rates going up arbitrarily anyway. It was the veterans group who brought out the tax that heretofore was obscurely written and buried among the 2,500 page bill. As I read it the tax will be levied on the manufacturers, importers and producers of taxable medical devices. I'm guessing that the tax will be included in such items as feet, knees, socks, liners and sleeves, but will be added by prosthetists for sockets, pylons, couplers and other parts of the prosthesis produced by them. Insurance companies might cover the costs levied by manufacturers as they have no choice but to raise the costs of items to cover these taxes. Will they cover the costs levied by our prosthetists? I doubt it. It will have to be a separate line item on our bill.

I'm in the same insurance category with Mike. I only pay a max of $2,500 per year. Rates will go up anyway, but to add $350.00+ to the cost of a prosthetic will see many people without a limb. This will also increase the costs of our prosthesis through the manufacturers and prosthetic firms we use as it will increase their paperwork. My thought is you can, at minimum, double the 2.3% to cover these costs.

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Just because something is in print does not make it true. Our vets, I am one, pay nothing for their prosthetics, nothing, nada.

If there is truly a tax on these items it is the VA that pays the tax.

It is enough that we here on this forum are amps, we have banded together to help each other out and, please believe me, if this

forum turns political it would be disastrous. Already I see "sides" being taken. Let's leave politics at the door and continue

taking care of each other.

:-)

Peter

Hello, Peter! Point well taken. I hope the lack of emoticons in my last post didn't lead anybody to think I was in any way upset over the content of this thread. Far from it. I should have interspersed some smiley faces as I typed. :-)

One of my greatest fears about health care ties in with the fact that I'm an above-the-knee amputee, and I'm fairly young (35 years old). I worry about being able to keep my excellent health insurance as the years go by. Will it be canceled by my insurance company for some unfathomable reason? Will they price me out of the market by greatly increasing my premiums beyond what I can afford to pay? Given the cost of prosthetics, will I hit my lifetime cap ($2,000,000 dollars on my policy) well before I'm due to kick the proverbial bucket? These issues are huge, and that's why health care is such an important political issue to me.

Healthy people take their good fortune for granted. It doesn't matter how wonderful someone's life is going at the present time. In the blink of an eye, any of us can lose our excellent health, our job, our savings, our good credit, and our health insurance. This can all happen shockingly fast. While I was in the hospital up at Stanford last year, I watched the medical helicopter flying emergency patients in around the clock nonstop for a week straight. Most of those people were just living their life, taking things for granted, and then, boom. Everything changed in a nanosecond. They didn't plan on being in the emergency room, but there they were just the same. Seeing that had quite an effect on me.

And with that, I will step down from my small but good-natured soapbox. I will do my best to refrain from making any more stump speeches (sorry, couldn't resist). :-)

Mike B

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Guess I am strictly on the other side of this debate :smile:

I was not talking about the veterans....I was speaking about us {you & me}....we do have to have insurance {which I have} or we pay out of our pockets. There are some good items in the health care bill, such as closing the famous donut hole; denial of coverage to list afew, but are not in effect now. OK, I will say no more; but do feel we should all be able to talk about everything on our forum. :smile:

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I've not had much (read: ANY) time to study this story...I'm still frantically packing for my move, which is happening in just over a week. However, I'm wondering if the tax is actually being charged to the vets personally, or if it's just planned to become part of the "fee" being charged for prosthetics. In that case, Hatch's amendment may have been intended to save the government (in this case, the VA administration) the cost of the additional 2.3% and wouldn't really have a personal impact on vets. Just wondering........

I have a personal tendency to go along with mikeybucs' point of view here, based solely on my own experience with the health care reform plan and my own insurance plan. Since I have had "preexisting conditions" all my life, many of which have been very expensive, I'm more concerned about that--and happier that it's on its way out--than I am about a small tax on what is, after all, a product. (Now granted, our limbs are expensive products, and yes it would be nice if there were no tax added...but I tend to think of the majority of my taxes as being my "bill" for living in this country and having the advantages of citizenship here. And if some of them go for things I don't personally approve of--like war, for example--well, that's also a "cost" of my living here and benefiting from life as a US citizen.)

I watched my parents work multiple jobs, go deeper and deeper into debt, and even lose a home from the expense of keeping their eldest child alive...and yes, it made me feel awfully guilty about what my poor health was doing to the family. All through that time, we had "pretty good" employer-provided health insurance. It makes me actually quite glad that someone is finally at least making an attempt at improving matters.

Just my own two cents worth......... :smile:

The tax beginning in 2013 is being paid by the manufacturer's of prosthetics. However, that cost is being passed on to insurance companies and the amputee who pays a percentage of the cost. There were three amendments to this bill, one exempted all disabled, one exempted only vets, and the other would have repealed the tax. All three failed. Not a single Senate Republican voted for this tax on Veterans.

From the link.

"4. Finally, there is an exception from the tax for devices sold at

retail for individual use. Whether O&P, or part of O&P will be exempted

under this language is not yet known."

http://www.oandp.com/oandp-l/message.asp?frmMessageId=D30DE430-D8AC-4889-B982-D7555D894773

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