Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) may have 228 co-sponsors for his bill to repeal the medical device tax, but he’s still missing some key members of the congressional caucus formed to support the medical device industry.
About 25 of the 66 members of the Medical Technology Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives have yet to sign on as co-sponsors on Paulsen’s H.R. 436: Protect Medical Innovations Act.
Notable missing signatures include a key member of the House leadership, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who as the House Majority Leader wields significant power in influencing which bills are brought before the House for a vote.
The caucus, formed in 1993, "does not endorse legislation or take positions on policy matters," according to its web site; it serves as a forum to discuss issues relating to medical technology.
Nearly all of the caucus’ GOP members have co-sponsored Paulsen’s bill, along with a smattering of House Democrats. Cantor, along with Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) are the lone GOP caucus members that have yet to sign on to the bill.
Paulsen told MassDevice last week that he expects a vote on the bill this year, as his efforts have gained traction with congressional members from both parties.
"I actually expect that this is going to move forward in the House sometime this year, hopefully sooner than later," he told us. Based on the number of co-sponsors on the bill, a straight up-or-down vote for repeal would clearly pass in the GOP-controlled House. However, it’s unlikely that the bill would pass in the Senate.
One of the reasons the repeal bill has not come before a vote is because House Republicans still have a disagreement over how to proceed.
"A lot of my colleagues, including leadership, felt that once we had a vote for repeal [of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act], that that was adequate, and some of the more conservative members of the House, didn’t want to pick and choose."
Still, Paulsen believes that his efforts have some momentum, even among some Democrats.
"There are some Democratic members who have not signed on to the repeal bill because they’re a little nervous about acknowledging that the health care law they may have voted for isn’t perfect," he said. "They’re more inclined to vote for it if they get the opportunity to vote on the floor, rather than sign their name on it and deal with a sort of push-back among some of their own base."
As for his own party’s leadership, Paulsen believes they’re getting the message.
"My leadership says it makes sense to vote on this separately," he said. "It’s one of these processes where all of a sudden we’re voting on something else because leadership has decided to push some other initiative through."