Medical device tax: Sen. Max Baucus's retirement and its effect on repeal

April 24, 2013 by Brian Johnson

A look at how the retirement of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) could affect efforts to repeal the medical device tax.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the medical device tax

It's unlikely that his waning days as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee will see Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) having a "Come-to-Jesus" moment on the medical device tax, but his retirement does change the game on repealing the levy.

The Affordable Care Act (and the 2.3% excise tax on U.S. medical device sales created to help finance it) is the 6-term lawmaker's crowning achievement, one he has promised to end his career as a lawmaker fighting for.

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Baucus, who announced his impending retirement at the end of his term in 2014 yesterday, told Politico that he will "totally stand by" the health law.

"If we had not adopted the ACA, healthcare costs would be going up at a greater rate," he told the website.

The medical device industry also expects Baucus to stick to his guns.

"I don't anticipate that during the remainder of his tenure, Sen. Baucus is going to support repealing the medical device tax," AdvaMed's chief lobbyist, J.C. Scott, told in an interview. "I don't think that dynamic changes."

So where does the departure of the Big Sky State's senior senator leave the medical device industry? In the fall of 2009, Baucus, in his role as the lead author of the healthcare law, was faced with a decision on how to pay for the massive reform.