Where do medical device tax fighters go now?

MassDevice.com coverage of the medical device tax

Now what?

It’s a question the medtech industry faces now that what was perhaps its best opportunity to repeal the medical device tax faded when Congress passed a stop-gap measure staving of the so-called fiscal cliff without addressing the levy.

As medical device companies begin paying those first tax bills due on January 15th, MassDevice.com takes a look at the next fights to come on the medical device tax.

Medical device industry lobbying group AdvaMed issued a statement Wednesday morning promising to continue the fight to repeal the device tax, but it’s not clear where the battle will take. The med tech industry needs an appropriate legislative vehicle on which some sort of repeal effort could be a part of, and that vehicle was meant to be the fiscal cliff deal.

The good news is that the next chance may come soon.

At the end of February the federal government will need to extend the nation’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit and stave off automatic cuts to both domestic and military programs. The threat of a potential default of the nation’s credit, combined with the desire to mitigate deep cuts will likely spur another round of negotiations.

The GOP will likely still be smarting from its inability to get any real spending cuts on the table during the fiscal cliff negotiations, so the debt ceiling may be the best chance for another run at a grand bargain and a revival of the medical device tax repeal fight. Recent history suggests, however, that grand bargains aren’t part of Washington’s play book anymore.

Will the 113th Congress be lucky for the medical device industry?

The fiscal cliff was the swan song of the 112th congress, widely considered one of the most ineffective and divided legislative bodies in generations. What will the 113th congress look like in terms of the medical device industry?

Basic civics teaches us that all legislation left unfinished expires with the passing of a new Congress. That means that last year’s successful repeal of the medical device tax by the House of Representatives is essentially moot.

As we reported earlier, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) the architect of the successful repeal bill in the House, plans on re-introducing his repeal bill perhaps as soon as this month. That bill, which originally passed 242-173, included 36 Democratic supporters.

Of those Dems who signed onto the deal, 10 were replaced by Republicans through elections, retirement or redistricting.

Lawmaker, Rep. Tim Holden, (D-Pa.) lost his seat to another Democrat. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, (D-Calif.) retired and his seat is still vacant.

Republicans still hold a 232-200 majority in the House, while the Senate remains firmly in Democratic control, where the blue members hold a 53-45 advantage.

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