Medical technology companies are making an end of year push to get the Senate to pick up legislation that would remove the medical device excise tax included in the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday, November 14, a broad coalition of medical technology companies, physician groups, venture capital firms and associations submitted a letter to the Senate leadership urging a repeal of the tax that they estimate will cost medical technology companies nearly $30 billion and force job cuts as well as reductions in R &D that could ultimately harm patients.
The House of Representatives had already passed a repeal of the tax by a vote of 270-146 in June. However, the repeal must pass both houses of Congress in order for the bill to be sent to the president for signing into law.
In coordination with the coalition letter, more than 50 medical technology industry executives met with members of Congress to ask for their support. Among the 850 companies, groups and associations who signed onto the letter are several diagnostic imaging industry representatives, including:
- The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA)
- FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA, Inc.
- GE Healthcare
- Hitachi Medical Systems
- Philips Electronics North America
Although the repeal may appear to be halfway decided as the House has already voted in favor of removing the tax, partisan politics pose a big challenge. Republicans hold the majority in the House while Democrats hold the majority in the Senate.
Because the device tax repeal would take money away from the Affordable Care Act, it will be difficult to get enough Democratic Senators to support it.
There is some bi-partisan support for the repeal. Incoming Democratic superstar Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pledged during her Senate campaign to repeal the tax and Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both Democrats, also support a repeal. (Minnesota is home to many medical device companies.)
However, even if the repeal can get a majority in the Senate, there is one more big hurdle. In June President Obama said he would veto a repeal of the device tax should such a bill somehow make it to his desk, according to Reuters.