Veterinarian ObamaCare

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ObamaCare will affect the wallets of pet owners too. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a 2.3% medical device tax to help offset the cost of the program. The plan and hopes were for your hospital and your doctor to see an increase in patients to help them adjust to this added expense. But this tax is also being applied to your veterinarian and his practice. Unfortunately, your veterinarian will not see an increase in patients because of ObamaCare. Your pet is not covered under ObamaCare. However, your vet is still required to pay this tax.

The IRS rule states:

Section 4191 [of the Internal Revenue Code] limits the definition of a taxable medical device to devices described in section 201(h) of the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act] that are intended for humans, but does not provide that the device must be intended exclusively for humans. Under existing [Food and Drug Administration] regulations, a device intended for use exclusively in veterinary medicine is not required to be listed as a device with the FDA, whereas a device intended for use in human medicine is required to be listed as a device with the FDA even if the device may also be used in veterinary medicine.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, common “dual-use” medical devices include examination gloves, sterile catheters and IV fluid pumps. This tax will also apply to dual use equipment and machinery, such as ultrasound and X-ray devices. Veterinarians will be charged this tax since they will use the same machines and supplies which are also designed for people.


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1) Your veterinarian must have a means for adjusting for these additional expenses and the most likely scenario is to pass on these costs to their patients. Pet owners already spend more than $12 billion dollars on pet care every year. Many owners will not be able to afford this increased expense. This may result in a drop in their veterinary visits which causes detrimental effects to the health of their pet.

2) If a device costs $30,000 to $40,000, this tax is not a trivial expense. So another potential drawback may be that some veterinarians will make delays in upgrading their equipment in order to avoid the added tax.

3) In addition, this could be enough of a financial burden for some small veterinary practices to turn away their services for animal shelters and other rescue organizations that have been receiving discounted rates.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, which represents over 84,000 vets, had teamed up with businesses and device makers to repeal the tax with little success. You can add your voice by calling your senators and congressman and speak about the unfairness of this tax which is a result of the Affordable Care Act. It is unfair to your veterinarian, yourself and your pet.

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Kay Ringlestetter’s article appears courtesy of