The U.S. Senate will reportedly take up a bill to repeal the medical device tax before the end of the year, following a U.S. House vote earlier this year to do away with the 2.3% excise tax enacted as part of Obamacare.
The Senate’s repeal bid, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is S. 149 or the “Medical Device Access & Innovation Protection Act.” The bill has 39 co-sponsors, including 5 Democrats, but faces an uphill battle in the Upper Chamber. President Barack Obama’s administration has promised a veto should it ever reach his desk.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is the lead Democrat working on moving the Hatch measure forward, a Democratic aide told the National Journal. Republicans would need to muster 59 votes to overcome a filibuster and 67 votes to override a presidential veto. A Republican aide told the magazine that some in the GOP are reluctant to change a small part of the Affordable Care Act, preferring wholesale repeal of the ACA.
Nevertheless, repealing the medical device tax is “not inconsistent with our party’s position of repealing Obamacare,” the aide said, noting that the effort will be a “very real exercise.” A spokesman for majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that although a vote on the tax hasn’t been scheduled, “it’s something we’d like to get done, of course,” the journal reported.
In June, 46 Democrats joined the vote to approve H.R. 160, the “Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015,” sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), 1 of several repeal bids circulating on Capitol Hill. In addition to the Hatch bill, which is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Ben Casey of Pennsylvania, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, a pair of Democrat-led bills would also repeal the tax.
But unlike the Hatch and Paulsen measures, those bills would replace the lost revenue by closing tax loopholes for the energy industry. A bill by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), S. 844 or the “No Taxation on Device Innovation Act,” has no co-sponsors. Its counterpart in the House, H.R. 1533 or the “Medical Device Tax Elimination Act” sponsored by Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), has 9 co-sponsors, all Democrats.