Recently-minted CNN contributor Dana Loesch claimed that breast pumps will be subject to the "massive excise tax" on medical devices under the health care reform law. In fact, the law exempts medical devices that are "generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use."
Loesch Claims Mothers Will Face Excise Tax On Breast Pumps Under Health Care Reform
CNN's Loesch: Breast Pumps "Will Be Hit With A Massive Excise Tax"; The Government Is "Making It A Little Bit Difficult For Moms." From the February 17 edition of CNN's John King USA:
LOESCH: Look, I am all for breastfeeding. I myself breastfed my children 'til they were well passed a year. And I think it's fantastic the advocacy for that. I'm a very vocal supporter of it.
But at the same time, from a conservative perspective, I have to question what the White House is doing because breast pumps actually fall under medical devices, which as you know, under the health care law, those devices are going to be hit with a massive excise tax. So, don't make something tax deductible that you are taxing. Just don't tax it.
LOESCH: Again, breastfeeding's fantastic but the government -- it's already kind of making it a little bit difficult for moms anyway with all of the excessive taxation and we have 19 new taxes with the health care law. These excise taxes -- I think this is going to cost businesses in excess of over $20 billion a year, which is going to skyrocket not only the cost of these breast pumps, which I used when I was a nursing mother, but also a lot of other related accessories to motherhood. So I just -- I think it's kind of a weird way that the administration is going about it. [CNN's John King USA, 2/17/11]
- During the segment CNN host John King did not correct Loesch's statement that health care reform imposes an excise tax on breast pumps.
Loesch Recently Named CNN Contributor. CNN announced on February 10 that Loesch would be a CNN contributor. [Media Matters, 2/17/11]
Excise Tax Exempts Devices Purchased By The General Public For Individual Use
Medical Devices Generally Bought By Public For Individual Use Are Exempt From The Tax. Section 1405 of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (passed as a companion bill to the Affordable Care Act) imposes a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales. However, it specifically exempts purchases determined to be "of a type which is generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use":
(a) In General- There is hereby imposed on the sale of any taxable medical device by the manufacturer, producer, or importer a tax equal to 2.3 percent of the price for which so sold.
(b) Taxable Medical Device- For purposes of this section--
(1) IN GENERAL- The term `taxable medical device' means any device (as defined in section 201(h) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) intended for humans.
(2) EXEMPTIONS- Such term shall not include--
(B) contact lenses,
(C) hearing aids, and
(D) any other medical device determined by the Secretary to be of a type which is generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use. [Public Law No: 111-152, 3/30/10]
IRS: Medical Device Excise Tax Does Not Apply To Devices That Are "Generally Purchased By The General Public At Retail For Individual Use." In a notice inviting public comments on how it should implement the excise tax, the IRS noted that the health care law "provides that the term "taxable medical device" does not include eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, or "any other medical device determined by the Secretary to be of a type which is generally purchased by the general public at retail for individual use." [IRS.gov, 12/27/10]
IRS Has Said That Breast Pumps Purchases To "Assist Lactation" Are Tax Deductible And Reimbursable Under Flex Spending Plans. As CNN host John King noted during the segment, the IRS recently announced that it would grant tax breaks for breastfeeding supplies. From a New York Times report on the decision:
The ruling, which will affect expenses incurred starting in 2010, will allow mothers to use pretax money from their flexible spending accounts to cover the cost of breast pumps and other supplies. Those without flexible spending accounts may deduct breast-feeding costs if their total unreimbursed medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income and they itemize. [New York Times, 2/10/11]