The medtech tax will be repealed, and other predictions for 2014

December 27, 2013 by Brian Johnson looks into the tea leaves to peek at medtech's near future with our 3 predictions for the new year.

As we put a ribbon on 2013, another tumultuous year for the medical device industry, it's time to check the tea leaves for what medtech might expect in 2014.

These predictions are based on the 2,500 or so stories we've written this year about the medical device space, as well as conversations we've had with hundreds of industry leaders about their thoughts, concerns, annoyances and triumphs.

Prediction #1: The medical device tax will not survive 2014

The 2.3% medical device excise tax barely survived the budget battle this fall with an amendment to repeal the onerous levy making it all the way to the final reconciliation before being yanked out at the last minute.

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Might the tax have suffered a mortal blow by being dragged into the fray? Public support to repeal the tax is still high and the industry continues to score points on the jobs argument. Yet the industry is still writing checks to the IRS, so it's still only a moral victory.

Yet there remain several good signs that the tax could be repealed in the coming year.

First, the author and godfather of the medical device tax, Sen. Max Baucus, is retiring this year and is likely off to China as the next ambassador for the U.S. As we've noted in the past, the Big Sky State's senior senator looms large over the medical device tax debate because of the considerable power he yields over the purse strings of the federal government as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.