cigarette taxes

As a healthcare provider, I witness daily the health problems caused by smoking. Cigarette smoking costs the taxpayers millions of dollars a year and I feel that this extra cost is unfair the non-smoking taxpayer.

The Senate passed H. 3567 which places $5 million in smoking cessation programs and the rest going to Healthcare. These funds are split between premium assistance in the form of a tax credit and Medicaid funding. Unfortunately, as revenues decline as expected, we will face Medicaid shortfalls in the future which would result in either additional tax increases or lowering the number of qualifying recipients.

H. 3567 essentially supplements the Medicaid system with an additional $300 million in a budget shortfall year with across the board agency cuts. I am a registered pharmacist and am part owner in a pharmacy/HME business. This increase will have a personal financial impact, therefore, ethically, I found it necessary to recuse myself from voting on H. 3567. Also, I refrained from voting on amendments relating to Medicaid during the debate on H. 3567.