House Passes H.R. 436, Fight Expected in Senate over Medical Device Tax Repeal

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By a vote of 270-146 today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 436, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2011, which would repeal a 2.3 percent tax on the sale and importation of medical devices in the United States. The tax, which is scheduled to take effect in 2013, would provide an estimated $29 billion in federal revenues through 2022. Sister legislation to repeal the tax is not expected to survive a Senate vote; moreover, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, the White House “would recommend a veto” if it did. To make up the difference in revenues from repealing the tax, H.R. 436 would require people who participate in flexible health savings accounts to obtain prescriptions for over-the-counter medications and to then use those dollars to pay for them. The bill would also eliminate an HSA forfeiture clause whereby unused dollars are recouped by the government at the end of each year. Instead, up to $500 could come back to taxpayers as tax-eligible income.