Incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its 2.3% medical device tax could come as soon as next month.
In an interview with CQ Roll Call, the veteran lawmaker promised to make repealing the healthcare reform law his top priority and hinted that a vote could come as soon as U.S. Senate officially transfers control to Republicans Jan. 6, 2015.
"Number 1: We certainly will have a vote on proceeding to a bill to repeal Obamacare. … It was a very large issue in the campaign. And, the reconciliation process does present an opportunity and we’re reviewing that to see what’s possible through reconciliatio. So, we’re certainly going to keep our commitment to the American people to make every effort we can to repeal it," McConnell told the magazine.
McConnell cautioned that it’s highly likely that President Barack Obama would veto the repeal, but that there were components of the bill the Senate could knock out – including the medical device excise tax.
“We actually had a show vote on the medical device tax … and 79 senators, including that great conservative Elizabeth Warren, said they didn’t like the medical device tax, so we will go at that law – which in my view is the single worst piece of legislation passed in the last half century – in every way that we can," he said.
The push to do away with the medtech tax, a 2.3% levy on U.S. sales of prescribed medical devices that went into effect last year, enjoys support from Democrats from device-heavy states like Massachusetts and Minnesota.
McConnell and his allies face a multi-step process in repealing the medical device tax, according to former Indiana senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat. Bayh told members of the medtech community recently that under Republican leadership in the Upper Chamber, a repeal of the tax would likely play out much like the Welfare Reform Act of 1995, when the GOP was able to get then-President Bill Clinton to sign off on a bill he found politically unpalatable.
In that scenario, Bayh reasoned, a GOP-controlled Senate would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act outright through the reconciliation process. That would then be vetoed by the president and sent back to the Senate, which would begin to pull out such unpopular pieces of the ACA as the medical device tax.