Measure Inspired By Camden County Woman Would Exempt Sales Tax for Cosmetic Make-Up Services Performed In Conjunction With Reconstructive Breast Surgery
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Beach (D-Camden, Burlington) that would exempt sales tax for certain cosmetic services that are performed in conjunction with reconstructive breast surgery cleared the Assembly today, sending it to the governor’s desk. Inspired by a CamdenCounty woman who underwent a mastectomy as a preventive measure, the bill would establish ‘Jen’s Law.’
“Women who make the decision to undergo a mastectomy are already dealing with both the physical as well as the emotional effects of the procedure. This measure will ensure they are not also asked to pay a state tax on the cost of the surgery,” said SenatorBeach. “I want to thank Jen for bringing this issue to light and for the courage she has demonstrated throughout her work on this legislation. It is truly because of her efforts that we are rectifying this issue so that women across New Jersey who are undergoing this serious surgery are not burdened with unnecessary charges.”
Current law also requires health insurers to cover the costs of reconstructive breast surgery following a mastectomy. Insurers, however, have declined to pay for the sales tax charged for cosmetic make-up services that are provided in conjunction with such surgery, and have instead required patients to pay the sales tax amount out-of-pocket.
At the final stage of breast reconstruction surgery, women often decide to use permanent cosmetic make-up to create the appearance of a pre-mastectomy breast. Under current law, these procedures are subject to sales tax. This bill, S-374, would expand the exemption to permanent cosmetic make-up applications, when it is called for by a physician. Current law exempts certain massages, bodywork or other services, pursuant to a doctor’s prescription. It also ends the loophole under which insurance companies are not covering sales tax charged for these types of procedures, therefore leaving it to the patients to pay the taxes out-of-pocket.
The bill is named after Jennifer Dubrow Weiss, a Voorhees advocate, who had a double mastectomy after it was discovered that she had a high risk for getting breast cancer. She lost her mother to breast cancer at a young age and after a series of tests, it was discovered that she had a high risk of being diagnosed with the disease. According to the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, the first gene associated with breast cancer was identified in 1994 and a year later, a second gene was discovered. Children of parents with these two genes have a fifty percent chance of inheriting the genes.
The legislation passed the Senate unanimously in December. It was approved in the Assembly today by a vote of 80-0.