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.
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 Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) has also stated that the medical device tax would likely be repealed.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.