Medical device tax repeal bill gains enough co-sponsors to pass House

113th U.S. Congress

Representatives in the U.S. House are set to repeat their vote to repeal the medical device tax, now that a bill to do away with the 2.3% sales levy has enough legislators behind it to ensure passage in the lower chamber.

The "Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2013," co-sponsored by Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.), garnered 218 signatures from the duo’s House colleagues. The measure would repeal the medical device tax, retroactive to Dec. 31, 2012. It’s slated for an airing before the House Way’s & Means Committee this year.

The House passed a repeal bill last year that was never taken up in the Senate. This year’s companion bill in the upper chamber, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), faces dim prospects in the Democratically-controlled Senate, despite impassioned backing from Paulsen in February.

"We have the support in the House, but in order to see this bill put into law, the Senate must also act. We need your help in making this legislation a reality," Paulsen urged in a grassroots appeal. "Please contact your Senator or Congressman. If they are on the list, thank them for the support. If they aren’t, explain why repealing the tax is important to you, patients, and our economy and ask them to co-sponsor."

Paulsen re-introduced the repeal legislation Feb. 6 with Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). The Hatch bill had 30 supporters in the Senate as of March 22, from 26 Republicans but only 4 Democrats.

The medical device lobby was quick to praise the House "milestone" today.

"This important milestone for repealing the medical device tax is another strong signal that there is overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress to put an end to this bad policy. On the heels of the Senate’s message that repeal is a priority for them as well, we encourage Congress to move as soon as possible so that the medical device community can continue to fulfill its mission to improve patient care and alleviate human suffering," Medical Device Manufacturers Assn. president & CEO Mark Leahey said in prepared remarks. "Our fragile economy can’t afford policies that stifle job creation, and repealing the medical device tax will be a shot in the arm for American high-tech manufacturing at a time when our workforce needs it."

Stephen Ubl, president & CEO of AdvaMed, urged the 113th to speed the repeal bills to passage.

"The damaging effects of the tax are real and are hitting companies who have announced layoffs, reductions in R&D or delays in capital improvements. We urge Congress to move swiftly to repeal the tax," Ubl said in a statement. "Device manufacturers are now paying an estimated average of $194 million per month in medical device tax payments – money that could be going toward investment in R&D for the next generation of medical innovations and spurring American job growth."

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