House votes to repeal controversial device tax

The House has voted, 280-140, in favor of repealing a 2.3% tax on medical devices. H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015, passed with votes from every present Republican and 46 Democrats.   

“As a country, we take great pride in our ability to create, invent, and innovate – especially when it comes to products that improve people’s lives,” Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Mn), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement. “The medical device tax stands in direct contrast to this ideal, which is why you’ve seen Members of Congress from across the political spectrum support its repeal. It’s time to push this legislation across the finish line and support American jobs and innovation.”

The device tax was originally created to help fund the Affordable Care Act, and legislators have been aiming to have it repealed for years now. Lobbyists have reportedly spent over $200 million to have it repealed.

The bill has not been considered by the Senate yet, but it does have some bipartisan support there and is expected to pass when a vote takes place. The White House, however, is still indicating that President Obama will veto the bill if it lands on his desk.

“As we work to make the system even better, we are open to ideas that improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of health care, and help middle-class Americans,” a statement from the Office of Management and Budget said. “ H.R. 160, which would provide a large tax break to profitable corporations by repealing the medical device excise tax, does not advance these goals.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute, wrote about the device tax in February and said repealing it would cost the United States $26 billion over the next nine years. It’s studies such as these that President Obama is expected to point to if he does indeed veto the bill. The legislation does not currently include a way to replace the funds it was expected to raise. If an alternative was offered, it is believed that a veto would be less likely.

A joint statement

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) and Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) released a joint statement commending the house for voting to repeal the device tax.

“Repealing the device tax will positively impact the future of medical technology and patient care by removing a barrier to medical progress and increasing resources for innovation, jobs, research and development, and manufacturing,” Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of AdvaMed, said in the statement.

“The House of Representatives sent a strong, bipartisan message that it is time to put an end to this tax on innovation,” Mark Leahey, president and CEO of MDMA, said in the same statement. “For far too long, the medical device tax has stymied advancements in patient care and destroyed high tech manufacturing jobs.”