The health care debate featured no shortage of rumors designed to misinform the American people about the Affordable Care Act. And while the debate has ended and implementation of the new law has begun, the rumor mill hasn’t slowed down. The latest rumor is the unfounded charge that “America's wounded warriors face a new tax on prosthetic limbs and other vital medical devices.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While the new law includes a tax on big medical device manufacturers, the tax won’t be passed on to veterans and wounded active duty military personnel and veterans will continue to receive prosthetic devices at no cost from the VA and TRICARE.
Here’s the truth behind the latest unfounded claim:
- Today, wounded veterans and active duty military receive prosthetic devices from the VA or TRICARE at no cost. That won’t change under the Affordable Care Act.
- We know medical device manufacturers will prosper under the new law -- the Affordable Care Act expands health insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans and these newly insured individuals will use products made by the medical device industry. This is already a large and profitable business; sales in the medical device industry even before the Act takes effect are estimated to be $138 billion for 2010. The new tax applies to this industry and will help ensure we provide more Americans with affordable coverage choices.
- This is not a tax on consumers and claims that the tax will result in higher prices for prosthetics or other medical devices are wrong. Prices and reimbursements for medical devices will continue to be negotiated between the device industry and insurance companies, retail establishments, and the federal government, in the case of veterans and active duty service members. And the full cost of prosthetics for veterans will continue to be borne by the government.
The Affordable Care Act builds upon the Obama Administration’s commitment to caring for veterans and active duty military ensuring they have the highest quality health care possible. The Obama Administration has already provided a historic increase for veterans’ health care. The President’s Budget expands access to VA health care to an additional 500,000 veterans who were previously denied coverage and helps improves medical care services for veterans in rural areas. The Budget also supports wounded warrior transition units and centers of excellence in vision and other areas to continuously improve care provided to wounded, ill, and injured service members. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act gives veterans and all Americans greater choice of health plan and increases competition in the health care marketplace. Veterans can still enroll in the VA and in 2014, they’ll have the option of VA health care or choosing an insurance plans through the new health insurance exchanges.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act only builds upon the President’s commitment to those who served our country proudly.
Darienne M. Page is a Veterans Outreach Assistant