Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) filed a new bill aimed at repealing the 2.3% medical device excise tax today, following up on his commitment to do away with the levy.
Paulsen, along with Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced H.R. 523, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with a group of 175 co-sponsors. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
The move is not a surprise, as Paulsen’s office told MassDevice last month that the congressman planned to file a new bill shortly after the 113th Congress convened.
A bid to repeal the levy successfully passed 242-173 in the House of Representatives last June. But the Senate failed to act on the legislation during the 112th Congress. The prior House win no longer applied after the new Congress was seated last month.
"Placing a new tax on the backs of U.S. medical innovators and entrepreneurs who employ more than 400,000 Americans is not a prescription for economic growth or job creation," Paulsen said in a prepared release. "In fact, companies have already laid off thousands of employees as a result of this onerous new tax, and more jobs will be lost now that this tax is in effect. It’s not only costing our country jobs and deterring innovation, but more importantly, it will reduce patient access to cutting-edge medical products and treatments that save lives."
"Repealing the medical device tax eliminates barriers to medical innovation, ensuring patients have access to life saving technologies and reduces the burden on tight R&D budgets, spurring job growth in the industry," Kind added in prepared remarks. "Supporting and promoting American manufacturing, innovation, and research and development will increase our economic competitiveness and ensure our economy is built to last."
While the bill is likely to pass again in the GOP-controlled House, getting it enacted into law still looks like an uphill fight, with Democrats in control of both the Senate and the White House.
Medical device industry leaders have been optimistic about the amount of repeal support they’ve been able to cobble together in the upper chamber, pointing to a recent letter by Democratic senators in favor of repealing the tax.
In that letter, Klobuchar, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and 16 other senators asked that majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) delay implementation of the tax, which nonetheless went into effect in January.
"Most people don’t recognize the magnitude of the letter that the Democratic senators sent to leadership," Zoll Medical CEO Rick Packer told us recently.
President Barack Obama has twice promised to veto a device tax repeal bill should 1 land on his desk.