Sentiments within the medical device industry aren’t as rosy as they appear from the perspective of the lobbying groups, according to the results of a snap survey conducted by MassDevice.com.
While a trio of industry lobbying groups has been campaigning for repeal of the 2.3% medical device tax that’s slated to take effect at the start of the year, the view from within seems to be that the tax is here to stay- and not enough is being done to fight it.
Of more than 100 survey respondents, 76% responded that there was no way to stop the medical device tax, or that they were pessimistic that efforts aimed at repealing the tax, which was created through President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, will work.
That’s a far cry from the "cautious optimism" often cited by medical device lobbying groups AdvaMed, the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance and the Medical Device Manufacturers Assn. Only 12% of survey participants agreed with the statement that "there is still a chance that the political process will work" to repeal the medical device tax.
Only 4% reported feeling optimistic that growing momentum would result in repeal of the medical device tax.
The negative sentiments coincide with comments that former AdvaMed chairman James Mazzo made last week when he told MassDevice.com that it’s unlikely the medical device tax will ever be repealed.
Last week former Mazzo, who is also president of Abbott Medical Optics, told an audience at MassDevice’s Big 100 Roundtable West event in Newport Beach, Calif., that delaying the medical device tax is possible, but total repeal is unrealistic.
"Obviously, we think he’s wrong," MITA executive director Gail Rodriguez told MassDevice.com this week. "We disagree."
"We would point to the growing bipartisan consensus in Congress," MITA state & federal government relations director Brian Connell added. "We’re focused on communicating with and emphasizing the consequences of this tax to the policy-makers that are going to be making the decision before January 1."
Those strategies aren’t enough, according to survey respondents. More than ¾ said that current efforts to repeal the tax aren’t enough to result in repeal, and more than half said they were either "moderately dissatisfied" or "extremely dissatisfied" with the medical device industry’s influence in Washington, D.C.
About ¼ said they were either extremely or moderately satisfied and the remainder said they were neutral on the matter.
From the perspective of the lobbying groups, the past year represents "remarkable" progress in raising awareness and spurring action toward repealing medical device tax, Rodriguez told us.
"We have been very successful in raising awareness of this issue, analyzing the issue, analyzing the potential costs of the issue and then galvanizing activities to repeal it and to delay it," she said. "It’s been quite remarkable how this industry has come together to note the importance of this, especially in this terrible, slow, slow economic recovery."
Among the industry’s most recent triumphs was the letter a group of 18 Democratic and independent senators sent this month to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asking for a delay to the levy, which will take a 2.3% cut from every applicable medical device sale in the U.S. The measure aims to raise about $30 billion over 10 years to support healthcare reform.
Industry groups are also asking stakeholders – executives, employees, suppliers and others – to reach out to their state senators and representatives to ask for action on the medical device tax, Rodriguez told us. Given that the industry has 2 weeks left to make its mark in Washington, grassroots support may be critical.
"We think the most important thing right now is for the people who are going to be affected by this tax to communicate to their officials just what those effects will be and then I think the decision will be in their hands," Connell said. "When policy-makers hear that from their constituents, it has a real effect."
"Several thousand" letters have been written already, MITA reported.