Medical device tax: Rep. Paulsen plans to re-introduce repeal vote

capitol hill

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) isn’t ready to cede the fight to repeal the medical device tax, his office told MassDevice.com Thursday.

The Congressman, a vocal advocate of the medtech industry, plans to reintroduce a previous measure that would strike the tax from the Affordable Care Act, according to Paulsen’s aides.

The bill, which last June successfully passed 242-173 in the House of Representatives, must start from scratch. The Senate failed to act on the legislation during the 112th congress, and the prior House win no longer applies now that a new Congress has been seated.

A source inside Paulsen’s office told us the Minnesota Congressman plans to "act quickly" in putting the bill back up for a vote.

While the bill is likely to pass again in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, getting it enacted into law will still be an uphill fight.

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 supported by Democratic Senators in favor of repealing the tax.

In the letter Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and 16 additional current and elected Senators asked that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) delay implementation of the tax, which nonetheless went into effect this week.

"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.  

However, President Barack Obama has twice promised to veto a device tax repeal bill should one land on his desk.

In December the President defended the 2.3% medtech sales tax, telling a reporter for The Weekly Standard, "The healthcare bill is going to provide those medical device companies 30 million new customers … It’s going to be great for business, and they’re doing really well right now."

Those remarks were met with much consternation by Paulsen, who said the President was perpetuating a "convenient myth."

The 113th Congress will be slightly different than the body which passed the repeal bill last summer, as House Democrats picked up about 9 seats in the November 2012 election. The GOP still holds a 233-200 majority.

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