Lawmakers say no to tax relief

Saturday, May 31, 2008

OLYMPIA, Wash.--Despite broad support, providers in March again failed to convince state legislators to pass a bill that would make DME exempt from an 8.9% sales tax.

Providers have been trying to pass the bill for eight years now.

“It’s getting comical,” said Wendall Matas, immediate past president of the Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services (PAMES).

Providers pulled out all the stops this year, they say. They made more than 100 legislative visits to drum up support for the bill. They got a thumbs-up from the Washington State NeuroAlliance, a group of organizations that promotes access to quality healthcare for people with neurological disorders. A consumer even created a Web site supporting their cause, and it got more than 3,000 hits.

But the legislature, citing budget constraints, failed to pass the bill before it ended its session in March.

Providers aren’t ready to admit defeat, though. Tom Coogan, president of PAMES, plans to spend part of his summer and fall working to draft a new bill and find a “passionate” sponsor.