FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE
March 17, 2011
Montpelier, Vt. — When the government tries to tax your teeth, things are going in the wrong direction.
That is what Vermont State Dental Society (VSDS) executive director Peter Taylor said today when he presented over 4,500 signatures opposing a proposed provider tax tolegislative leaders, House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morrisville, and Senate Pro Temp John Campbell, D-Windsor.
Dentists will be forced to pass the tax to the consumer. The VSDS and over 4,500 petition signers believe that the three percent taxwould penalize those taking preventive measures for their oral health. Within weeks of putting up petitions all over the state, the VSDS has found over 4,500 Vermonters who want to keep their teeth tax-free.
“It doesn’t make any sense to tax people who are taking a proactive role in their oral health and hygiene,” said Taylor. “We believe it makes much more sense to tax items that hinder oral health like candy, soda and tobacco. Taxing health care to pay for health care is a math problem that just doesn’t add up.”
The tax would impose a three percent tax on the gross receipts of dental services, and is expected to raise $6 million. That $6 million will be matched by the federal government for a grand total of $15 million. The dentists will then receive $6 million back in Medicaid reimbursements, and state coffers will keep the difference of $9 million.
Private dental practices account for 80 percent of Medicaid treatment in the state, so some dentists will have the opportunity to receive some money back by seeing Medicaid patients. However, most dentists who will experience a benefit from the increased Medicaid payments believe that a tax on dental services is not the correct way to raise these funds. There are other more broad based taxes or taxes on unhealthy products that can raise the same revenue.
Over the past few years, the VSDS has made tremendous strides in recruiting new dentists to the state to ensure a sufficient dental workforce, but remains concerned that such a tax would interfere with theseefforts.
Taylor presented the petition backed by dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants and Vermonters from all walks of life, all of whom oppose the tax.
“I don’t understand how the administration can propose a tax on the one health service that patients pay out of pocket for,” said Burlington dentist Steve Pitmon. “They are not applying this tax to physicians or others whose services are more commonly included under insurance. In the end this is just going to hurt our patients and their ability to take care of their oral health.”