Blog Tag: ObamaCare
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.).
Potential Repeal of Medical Device Tax
With the upcoming Republican-dominated Presidency and Congress in 2017, the Affordable Care Act, or at least parts of it, look to be on the chopping block. One of the changes that may be forthcoming is a repeal of the 2.3% medical device excise tax. While currently being suspended through 2017, under the present law the medical device tax would be reinstated in 2018.
Some producers of medical devices hope that the tax is never reinstated. Mark Throdahl, president and CEO of OrthoPediatrics Corp., a northern Indiana based orthopedic company, has said that the suspension of the tax allowed the company to hire new workers and hopes for a full repeal after the Republican transition. According to Throdahl, the tax led to a hiring freeze, and suspension of the tax allowed for them to resume “an aggressive pace of hiring and investment.” Complaints from companies like OrthoPediatrics, as well as medical device associations like AvaMed, were what led to the initial temporary suspension of the tax.
Immediately after Donald Trump‘s election victory, AvaMed President Scott Whitaker wrote in a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence:
The medical device tax has been a significant drag on medical innovation, and resulted in the loss or deferred creation of jobs, reduced research, spending and slowed capital expansion.
According to some lawmakers, lobbyists, and industry executives, Trump and U.S. lawmakers will likely repeal the tax which could help some of the larger medical device manufacturers such as Medtronic, Boston Scientific, St. Jude Medical, and Johnson & Johnson. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that repealing the Affordable Care Act will be one of the first order of business starting in January. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) has also stated that the medical device tax would likely be repealed.
There are still a number of decisions on how to approach the repeal of the medical device tax, whether in one single bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act or a number of smaller bills removing different parts of the Act. We should be receiving more clarity once President-elect Donald Trump officially takes office.
Repeal of the tax may remove approximately $2.5 billion of annual federal funding.
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.