Critics of medical device tax continue working on repeal


Leaders of the medical device industry on Thursday met with U.S. Senator Al Franken to discuss efforts to repeal the medical device tax as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Franken said afterwards the tax is hurting Minnesota companies and pushing jobs overseas.

The 2.3 percent tax went into effect on the first of the year, and since medical device makers have been hoping to get it repealed.

Among the executives who Franken met with was LifeScience Alley CEO and Leaders in Health Care Awards finalist Dale Wahlstrom, according to a report in Minnesota Business Magazine.

Franken said, "We feel, we have always felt, that the best place for dealing with this is in a negotiation that isn't so partisan in order to get a bill that the president will sign."

Franken said that 79 senators voted for the repeal, so he feels very confident that they can get it done.

Most of the Minnesota delegation is in favor of the medical device tax repeal. A separate news story from MPR says Sen. Amy Klobuchar also voted for the repeal in the non-binding Senate vote.

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen introduced a bill in the House to repeal the tax, there are 266 co-authors of the legislation including six of the seven other representatives from Minnesota. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson is not signed on as a co-author of the bill.

However, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have opposed congressional moves to repeal the medical device tax. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairs the Senate Health Committee and has vowed to fight any repeal attempt in the Senate.

Harkin called it one of the phoniest issues in his years in the Senate.

"It is absolutely, totally fraudulent, and phony. That small amount of tax won't hurt them one bit, and they make a lot of money on medical devices.," said Harkin.

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Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen's bill exempting medical device manufacturers from a new health care tax has passed the House. But it may not get any farther. Democrats in the Senate are not likely to take up the measure. The White House says it will be vetoed if it gets to the president's desk.

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Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as ObamaCare, there has been great concern across the medical device industry about the medical device tax, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Regardless of presidential politics and party loyalties, the medical device excise tax must be repealed for the sake of our nation’s and state’s economy, if not our personal health.