The GOP had a big night Tuesday, both strengthening its hold on the House and swinging to a majority in the Senate. Of course Job No.1 for the GOP is attacking Obamacare, and the first salvo in that fight might be eliminating the medical device tax.
The medical device tax is one source of funding for the programs in the Affordable Care Act. If the Republicans could eliminate the tax, large parts of health reform could go unfunded and, in effect, become eliminated.
Medical device makers would rejoice because a 2.3 percent federal tax on every device they sell would suddenly go away. It would make the prospect of developing a new medical device a bit sweeter, which could end up helping patients.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday in which they said that a key focus of the Republican-controlled Congress would be to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Eliminating the device tax is something the Senator supports, and it’s something that Republicans will pursue,” a spokesman for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told VentureBeat. Blackburn wrote and introduced a bill (H.R. 2809) that would delay all Obamacare provisions and taxes for one year.
The spokesman said it’s now very likely that Republicans will introduce new legislation in the next Congressional session to overturn the device tax.
“It’s something the President hasn’t moved on and he has demonstrated that he doesn’t think the device tax works very well,” the spokesman said. “So the first thing the party would like to do is clear away all the things [in the Act] that aren’t working.”
In a floor vote last year, 79 senators — including some Democrats — voted to repeal the medical devices tax. The vote was largely symbolic, however, because the medical device tax provision was part of a piece of legislation that had no chance of being signed by the president. But the point was made that the tax was in the crosshairs.
But while the Republicans will be able to chip away at pieces of the Affordable Care Act, they will not be able to overturn it completely. It simply has too much momentum. A recent report says that by the time the next administration takes office, 24 million people will have bought insurance through the Healthcare.gov exchange.
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