MASSDEVICE ON CALL — As more lawmakers join the medical device industry in calling for a repeal or delay of the medical device tax that’s slated to hit January 1, some groups sought to temper the growing enthusiasm with words of warning.
"While it is certainly important for health care officials and lawmakers to make sure that the tax is applied in a way that doesn’t unnecessarily or negatively burden hospitals and device manufacturers, efforts to repeal or delay the tax risk leading down a slippery slope where Obamacare’s other funding mechanisms – such as the tax on premium health plans and wealthier Americans – are delayed, scaled back, or repealed in the face of persistent interest group lobbying," left-leaning Think Progress reported.
Medical device industry lobbying groups have launched a coordinated effort to generate support for repeal of the medical device tax. Earlier this month a group of Democratic and Independent Senators signed their names to a letter calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to ask for a delay to the levy.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) co-sponsored the letter, asking that Senator Reid help them in efforts to "ensure that our country maintains its global leadership position in the medical technology industry and keeps good jobs here at home."
House Republicans successfully passed a measure to repeal the tax, voting 270-146 in favor of striking the levy, but efforts in the Senate failed to garner as much support.
"The measure has not been taken up in the Senate," Think Progress noted. "However, if a sufficient number of Democratic lawmakers feel pressured enough by industry interests to include a device tax repeal in ‘fiscal cliff’ talks, that may change."
Last week Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) released his own statement after the IRS released its final regulations on implementation of the tax, citing the levy as "another example of why Congress must act now to address the fiscal cliff and looming taxes hikes."
"The medical device tax will cost Hoosier jobs, stifle medical innovation and increase health care expenses," Coats added. "Both sides of the aisle have acknowledged the damaging impacts this tax will have on an industry that not only provides jobs to thousands of Americans, but also enhances the lives of patients around the world. I urge my colleagues to include a repeal of the medical device tax in any final package to address the fiscal cliff."
Medical device industry group AdvaMed has maintained that it’s “cautiously optimistic” that it can generate enough support to spur action on the tax before it takes effect at the start of the year, either through delaying implementation or outright appeal, but some industry players aren’t so sure.
Abbott Medical Optics president and former AdvaMed chairman James Mazzo told MassDevice.com this week that he believes a modification or delay of the tax is possible, but that seeking repeal of the tax simply isn’t realistic.
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