Utah: ASPS Continues to Stop Cosmetic Medical Procedure Tax
During the 2019 legislative session, Utah legislators attempted to include a 3.1 percent sales tax on all cosmetic medical procedures in a tax overhaul bill that was introduced and fast-tracked through the legislature just two weeks before it was scheduled to adjourn. Upon learning of the bill, ASPS activated a grassroots alert to the Utah membership encouraging them to contact their legislator to remove the cosmetic tax provision. Thankfully, with the help of a diverse group of stakeholders on the ground including the Utah Society of Plastic Surgeons (USPS), the Utah Medical Association (UMA), the Stop Medical Taxes Coalition and other industry partners the bill failed upon adjournment in March.
Unfortunately, shortly after this hard-fought victory, Governor Gary Herbert expressed his intention to convene a special session to revisit the issue of tax reform. As a result, the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force was formed this summer with the purpose of convening townhall hearings across the state to gather public input on how to address the state's tax revenue structure. Upon learning of the task force's upcoming townhall sessions, ASPS quickly mobilized and began convening strategy calls with USPS, UMA and other industry partners to develop an engagement plan to educate lawmakers and patients about the negative implications of this failed policy.
In anticipation of the July 30 task force hearing, ASPS activated a grassroots and social media campaign to all Utah ASPS members urging them to contact members of the taskforce in opposition to the cosmetic tax and to encourage patient engagement on the issue. During the July 30th hearing, ASPS members Brian Brzowski, MD, Renalto Saltz, MD, and Kimball Crofts, MD – the current President of the Utah Society of Plastic Surgeons – represented the specialty by testifying before members of the taskforce urging them to stop this tax. ASPS assisted all three members with preparing testimony that focused on key arguments: (1) that this tax will drive revenue out of the state; (2) that this policy failed in New Jersey; (3) and that it discriminates against working women.
ASPS members' testimony was well-received and successfully convinced some task force members to abandon the inclusion of a cosmetic tax within the upcoming proposal. Over the next few months, the Society plans to build on this momentum by continuing to work with USPS, UMA and other coalition partners on ways to educate lawmakers and patients to ensure the state does not levy a cosmetic tax.