UPDATE: Device industry to Baucus: How about $15 billion instead?

October 5, 2009 by MassDevice

The medical device manufacturing industry counters the $40 billion in fees proposed in the Senate Finance Committee's healthcare reform bill, but the offer is likely too low; more legislators and industry leaders add their voices to the protest chorus.

Device industry to Baucus: How about $15 billion instead?

The medical device industry's lobbying push to scale back a proposed 10-year, $40 billion tax is coming down to the wire, as a vote on the Senate Finance Committee's healthcare reform bill nears.

The industry's Washington mouthpiece, AdvaMed, wants the $4 billion-per-year proposal pared to just $1.5 billion a year, according to the Wall Street Journal (paid), an offer that is probably not enough to mollify the panel's chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and other Democrats on the committee.

AdvaMed spokeswoman Wanda Moebius told the Journal reports of the counter-offer are mere "rumors and speculation," but with a final Finance Committee vote on track for as early as Oct. 6 and a hearing on the full Senate Floor possible the following week, time is running out for the industry to convince lawmakers that the tax as originally proposed is just to large to swallow.

"AdvaMed continues to work with members of Congress to educate them of the onerous nature of this $4 billion tax — nearly half of the total of the industry's research and development investment in 2007," Moebius told the newspaper.

That effort has apparently gained traction with some legislators, according to the Washington Post.

A bloc of senators from both sides of the aisle is lobbying Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) to lift the fees, the Post reported, and California's senators added their two cents to their House counterparts in a letter to Baucus.

"We are concerned that this excise tax will have a disproportionate impact on California, and result in additional lost jobs in the middle of an already severe economic downturn," wrote Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

And twenty other Democratic representatives from Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee sent a missive to House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), expressing similar sentiments.

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