The med-tech tax repeal movement gains momentum

Updated Nov. 11, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. to reflect higher number of signers.

Erik Paulsen

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.)

Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-Minn.) ongoing effort to repeal the medical device tax seems to be gaining momentum. 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on to his bill as of today, legislative assistant Katie Meyer told MassDevice in an email. That’s the minimum number of votes a bill need to pass the House.

Paulsen has said that the tax, slated to be implemented as part of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act after 2013, will reduce medical technology jobs across the country.

“This may be the most anti-innovation piece of legislation to come along in some time,” Paulsen said in a letter jointly written with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) last month promoting the "Defend Medical Innovation Act," which seeks to block the 2.3 percent tax on medical device company revenues prescribed by President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul last year.

Paulsen and Gerlach wrote that the measure will be directly responsible for some 43,000 lost jobs, putting American global competitiveness in peril. Paulsen’s home state of Minnesota is home to some of the largest device makers, including Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) and St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ).

He originally introduced legislation repealing the tax in April 2010, but received little support. Paulsen began circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter in January when the GOP-controlled 112th Congress convened.

His letter had support from 154 signers as of June, a congressional aide told MassDevice at the time.

Paulsen has emerged as a prominent voice for the med-tech industry, promising to revamp FDA policies that he says are delaying life-saving technologies from hitting the U.S. market.

He’s also gained the support of venture capital firms with stakes in med-tech. Paulsen received $74,000 in campaign donations following a speech in which he called for reforms; most of those contributions came from venture capitalist executives.

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