Trends: Medical device tax hits center stage amid federal shutdown

Trends: Medical device tax hits center stage amid federal shutdown

The public is clamoring for information about the medical device tax in the wake of the federal shutdown after a plan to keep the government funded and running fell apart over arguments about the Affordable Care Act.

Google searches for "medical device tax" have never been higher than they’ve been in the last week or so, as the topic has featured heavily in countless headlines about the stalled budget negotiations on Capitol Hill.

The levy became a political football as House Republicans demanded a repeal of the tax and a 1-year Obamacare delay in order to pass a spending bill that would fund continuing government operations. The Senate rejected the House amendments, sending a bare-bones measure back to the lower chamber where legislators continued to haggle over Obamacare.

In the mean time, the medical device tax has grown immensely in internet popularity, hitting highs not seen since the tax was conceived.

Google 'medical device tax' search trends for last couple weeks

“Medical device tax” search trends since late September 2013.

House Republicans under speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are under pressure from radical conservatives in the Tea Party to derail Obamacare by any means necessary. A Boehner spokesman said Sunday that Republicans are open to dropping the Obamacare delay but still want to do away with the 2.3% levy on all U.S. sales of prescribed medical devices.

"That is a potential compromise, if the Senate does that," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, terming the compromise "common sense," told Politico. "We will make that decision when and if the Senate acts."

Citing a symbolic, 79-20 Senate vote earlier this year for repeal, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Fox News Sunday that there’s some wriggle room in the bill, calling the medtech levy the "pacemaker tax."

"I think the House will get back together and, in enough time, send another provision not to shut the government down, but to fund it and it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at it again," McCarthy said, according to the website. "I think there will be additions that I have found in the Senate, that Senate Democrats say they can support."

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