Illinois dentists push for 5% soda tax

The Illinois State Dental Society (ISDS) is urging Illinois lawmakers to impose a 5% tax on soft drinks in a bid to improve oral and financial health statewide.

A study published online this month in the New England Journal of Medicine (April 8, 2009) suggests that a 10% tax on soda and similar drinks could cut consumption by 10%. But it could also generate some much needed state revenue, according to the ISDS.

In a hearing before the Illinois Senate Deficit Reduction Committee last month, ISDS members told legislators that increasing the tax on soda pop could generate a $94 million increase for Medicaid reimbursement rates for oral healthcare services, dental clinics, and other programs to attract dentists to underserved areas throughout the state.

About 200 dentists were expected to converge on the state capitol again last week to show their support for H.B. 388, which proposes a 5% tax on soda pop throughout the state. According to the ISDS, this tax will generate just over $45.6 million in the first year with a 50% federal government match, enough to fund the $94 million needed to align Medicaid funding rates with current consumer demand.

"We have identified a funding source that will help to make Illinois funding rates competitive with other states," said Joe Unger, D.D.S., ISDS president, in a press release. "We believe that if a product poses certain health risks then a percentage of those sales should go toward efforts to address those health concerns."

Copyright © 2009

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