Baucus on the medtech tax: ‘A deal’s a deal’

Baucus on the medtech tax: 'A deal's a deal'

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) didn’t mince words when asked about some colleagues’ push this week to repeal the medical device tax enacted this year as part of Obamacare, telling the medtech industry that, "A deal’s a deal."

"That industry contributed to a solution; they agreed to the tax, essentially, as did other industries. It’s improper at this point to go back on the deal," Baucus told Politico yesterday. "Also, it’d leave a deficit hole. … Who’s going to pay for getting them off the hook?"

The comments came as other senators mounted a push this week to roll repeal of the 2.3% sales levy into the discussion over a tax bill and another measure on the debt limit.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), co-author with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) of a repeal bid, termed the tax a “stupid dumb-ass thing” earlier this week. The measure gained a 5th Democratic supporter when North Carolina’s junior senator, Kay Hagan, signed on Sept. 23.

Hatch’s remarks followed a joint statement from John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) opened up a new front in the war against the tax in a joint statement citing the "egregious" tax’s "destructive" impact on the U.S. medtech industry.

The tax is slated to raise $30 billion over 10 years and was designed to help pay for Obamacare, in return for an influx of newly insured patients the tax’s architects forecast as a result of the healthcare law. Klobuchar and Hatch this week said the repeal push should not be part of the furor over government funding that’s embroiled the Beltway.

"Right now, it’s not part of the strategy," Klobuchar told Politico.

"We’re going to go after that, but it’s probably going to be on the debt limit," Hatch added, according to the website.

A measure to repeal the tax easily passed in the House last year on a 242-173 vote and another bid had 261 co-sponsors as of today. But a Senate bill repealing the medical device tax is unlikely to win in the upper chamber and would almost certainly be a dead letter if sent to President Obama (a symbolic, non-binding repeal vote passed the Senate 79-20 earlier this year).

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