December surprise: New tax on docs to pay for … the war on drugs

8:16 am by | 1 Comments

Physicians were the subject of a 33% tax hike that most of them weren’t even aware they received this year.

That’s right.   Thirty-three percent.

Couched as “only five additional dollars each month” by the government, it passed because doctors don’t make the Federal Register part of their weekly reading list and because our professional lobbying organizations were either asleep at the wheel or distracted by the whole health care reform mess.

You see if you want to get more money for government programs, you should tax the “rich” doctors – the very same doctors that are enjoying (and have experienced the delays in payment caused by) the joys of the annual congressional cat-and-mouse game of a threatened 30% pay cut wrapped up in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  (Don’t worry docs, *wink wink* it really won’t happen).


The “tax” I’m speaking of?  Why it’s the new $731 DEA registration fee.

Until 2011, the three-year fee was $551.  Now it’s $731.

You do the math.

And why were the fees against doctors increased?

Because the DEA needed more money.  According to the FDA Law blog, the DEA cited a number of factors justifying the fee increase including:

• Expanding the use of Tactical Diversion Squads comprised of DEA diversion investigators and special agents, state and local law enforcement and regulatory officers conducting criminal investigations;

• Increased scheduled registrant investigations and inspections;

• Increased drug scheduling actions;

• Responding to the expanding number of synthetic substances such as synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones; and

• Establishing and maintaining information technology systems for registrants.

That’s right, in addition to paying ever-higher taxes, licensure fees, credentialing and continuing education fees, doctors are footing a larger and larger tab of the nation’s drug war while simultaneously trying to fight it on the front lines.


And people wonder why doctors are burnt out and fed up.


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Westby G. Fisher, MD

By Westby G. Fisher, MD

Westby G. Fisher, MD, FACC is a board certified internist, cardiologist, and cardiac electrophysiologist (doctor specializing in heart rhythm disorders) practicing at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, IL, USA and is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. He entered the blog-o-sphere in November, 2005. He writes regularly at Dr. Wes. DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly the those of the author(s) and should not be construed as the opinion(s) or policy(ies) of NorthShore University HealthSystem, nor recommendations for your care or anyone else's. Please seek professional guidance instead.
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Good commentary. 


Re: "And people wonder why doctors are burnt out...."


Apparently many doctors are burned out:


"More than four in 10 U.S. physicians said they were emotionally exhausted or felt a high degree of cynicism, or “depersonalization,” toward their patients, said researchers whose findings appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


“The high rate of burnout has consequences not only for the individual physicians, but also for the patients they are caring for”…. -Reuters, August 21, 2012


See "Obamacare: Making a bad situation worse"