by Loren Bonner
, DOTmed News Online Editor
Momentum to repeal the medical device tax is growing on Capitol Hill. Veterinarians are the latest group to join the push to eliminate the 2.3 percent excise tax that was included in the Affordable Care Act to help pay for the cost of reform.
It might be a different story if animals were actually benefiting from the law. But it's clear that the tax is intended to subsidize the cost of human health care, and not the animals that veterinarians treat.
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According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which includes more than 84,000 veterinarians nationwide, the tax will increase the cost of medical devices that are "intended for humans," but are also used in veterinary medicine. This would potentially increase costs for veterinarians — or lead some to pass the cost on to patients, which could translate into upping the price on procedures.
Under existing U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, devices exclusively labeled for veterinary medicine are excluded from several pre-market and post-market provisions, according to Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of AVMA's governmental relations division. They are also free from being "taxable medical devices". But many veterinarians purchase human X-ray and ultrasound machines, which are taxable under the law, and adapt them for their practices. Many of the expensive human imaging modalities used in veterinary medicine, such as X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT, are purchased second hand.
Lutschaunig believes that if the medical device tax stays, veterinarians might buy devices that are marketed exclusively for veterinarians. He also thinks that the device manufacturers will work to get more devices approved for the veterinary market.
"The AVMA does not believe that Congress intended the tax to impact veterinary medicine and has been clear that it does not support this tax, but we are now in a position where we must do what is best for both our members and the patients that we treat," said Lutschaunig.