Blog Tag: Congressional Research Service

The Medical Device Tax Lives On

For opponents of the 2.3 percent medical device tax, it looked like the repeal/replacement of the Affordable Care Act would alleviate their concerns.  However, following the failure of repeal legislation that would have killed off, or delayed, the tax, the tax is on pace to be reinstated on January 1st, 2018 after a two-year gap.

Regardless of the status of the Affordable Care Act, news articles have indicated that companies and lawmakers opposed to the tax are considering pursuing a number of different options, such as adding tax delay language into other bills.  Accordingly, a group of conservative action groups are pushing Congressional leaders to pursue a repeal of the tax, including preparing a letter to House speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.  Further, the Advanced Medical Technology Association will be running digital and social media ads throughout this month in a number of states, hoping for tax repeal once lawmakers are back in session in September.

While it can be difficult to truly define a correlation between job performance and the medical device tax, a member survey performed by the Medical Device Manufacturers Association found that 70% of companies added jobs in 2016-2017 and R&D increased by 19% on average.  On the other hand, in 2015 the Congressional Research Service found that there were no significant losses due to the tax.

According to news sources, the tax applies to hospital and physician medical equipment, but excludes many consumer medical items (eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.).

 

Bills to Repeal Medical Device Excise Tax Introduced

Congressman Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) recently introduced bills H.R. 160 and S.149, respectively.  Both bills are part of an effort to repeal the 2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers imposed by the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare.  Guidance from the IRS on the medical device excise tax can be found here.

Where previous attempts to modify or repeal the medical device excise tax have stalled in the Senate, the Washington Times reports that prospects of the repeal passing both houses of Congress are bolstered by the newly Republican-controlled Senate.  Further, as is reflected on Congress.gov, both bills have significant bipartisan support, and, according to The Hill, efforts to gain more supporters are ongoing.

But, The Hill reports that Republican and Democrat supporters of the repeal disagree on how to offset the revenue that would be lost should the tax be repealed.  Further tempering optimism for repeal of the excise tax is a January 9, 2015 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, entitled “The Medical Device Excise Tax: Economic Analysis,” which states in its summary that the effect of the tax on the medical device industry will be minor because of the relatively inelastic demand for medical services, the small tax rate, and the numerous exemptions from the tax.  Contrary to industry reports on the tax that predict significant adverse effects on innovation and employment, the Congressional Research Service’s report suggests that “most of the tax will fall on consumer prices, and not on profits of medical device companies.”

H.R. 160 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee while S.149 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Check back here for further developments on efforts to repeal the medical device excise tax.