The medical device tax continues to play a big role in the budget stalemate on Capitol Hill, where lobbyists haven’t let go of efforts to repeal the levy.
As a $30 billion piece of the funding for the Affordable care Act, the medtech tax has become a political football as warring factions in Congress fight over the debt ceiling.
The bickering has skyrocketed the medical device tax into the spotlight, where it has garnered more Google search traffic than at any other time in the past few years. As the federal shutdown languishes and both parties begin softening their rhetoric, healthcare lobbyists have remained optimistic that opponents of the tax still have friends in Washington and repeal is on the horizon, likely to tag along on a continuing resolution or debt-ceiling bill.
"We are thrilled that the issue has been able to get more of a public airing so that the public has more of a understanding of the issue," American Assn. of Neurological Surgeons Washington director Katie Orrico told TheHill.com. "There is a good chance this will ride along with that package."
The White House has insisted time and again that medical device tax repeal is a non-starter. During a presentation today President Barack Obama didn’t mention the tax specifically, but said that he’d be open to discussions if Congress can come to terms on a continuing resolution that would at least reopen offices until a long-term solution can be negotiated.
"I won’t let them gut a law that will allow tens of millions of people to get healthcare, but I’m willing to talk about it," President Obama said.
Medical device industry lobbying group AdvaMed has long said that federal budget negotiations may be a effective avenue for repealing the levy, a 2.3% levy on all U.S. sales of applicable medical devices. The tax took effect at the start of this year, but medtech allies haven’t given up on repeal, even winning wide support from the House of Representatives and even making friends in the Senate.
"A lot of members are worried about the economy and their districts and their states," Healthcare Leadership Counsel president Mary Grealy told TheHill.com. "These medical device jobs are well-paying jobs. I think that’s what is driving this."