Thursday, July 16, 2009

Partnership for Prevention is urging chairmen of the three congressional committees crafting the House version of a health care reform bill to raise the federal excise tax on alcoholic beverages and apply those revenues to a special fund to finance prevention and wellness initiatives.

“Higher alcohol excise taxes are an important tool in reducing the public health toll of alcohol abuse, while also providing a viable and appropriate source of funding to finance reform of our nation’s health system,” Partnership President Robert J. Gould said in a letter to Reps. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), and George Miller (D-CA). Rangel, Waxman and Miller are chairmen, respectively, of the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee.

In his letter, Gould cited a review of scientific studies by the U.S. Task Force on Community Health Services that found increased taxes or prices on alcoholic beverages are consistently related to a reduction in motor vehicle crashes and deaths, alcohol-impaired driving and death from liver cirrhosis as well as deaths from other causes. Higher alcohol taxes were also demonstrated to reduce the incidence of violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and alcohol dependence.

He also noted that federal alcohol excise taxes were last raised in 1991 and have not kept pace with inflation. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that a 20% tax hike on distilled spirits and equalizing the tax rates on other alcoholic beverages would provide $60 billion in new revenue over a decade.


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