Lawmakers target ObamaCare device tax

A bipartisan group of ten senators is reintroducing legislation to kill ObamaCare's levy on medical devices just as congressional researchers deflated several concerns about the tax in a new report.

The measure from Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchPublic lands dispute costs Utah a major trade show Overnight Tech: GOP chairman to propose high-skilled visa overhaul | Zuckerberg's 5,700 word letter | Tech lobbies gear up ahead of internet fight Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump vows to punish leakers | Cyber steers clear of tech versus Trump fight MORE (R-Utah) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDrug importation from other countries will save dollars and lives Top antitrust senators call for Sessions to scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner merger Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE (D-Minn.) would repeal the healthcare law's 2.3 percent excise tax on medical products and equipment. With support from members of both parties as well as industry, the bill is one change to the healthcare law that seems likely to pass Congress this year.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Every dollar medical device manufacturers spend on this onerous tax is a dollar taken away from American innovation, job growth, and the ability to provide groundbreaking medical technologies to patients in need," Hatch said in a statement Tuesday.

"Both Republicans and Democrats understand just how bad this tax really is, and we owe it to the American people to ensure the development of life-saving medical devices are not plagued by high costs that will, ultimately, be passed on to patients," he said.

Momentum for the bill could be stymied, however, by a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) finding that the tax's effects on jobs and medical device firms are "relatively modest."

"Innovation and research would be minimally affected," the report stated, calling the tax "relatively small." The CRS estimated that between 47 and 1,200 workers could lose their jobs, a tiny share of the industry.

The findings challenge separate research commissioned by the device industry projecting losses of up to 40,000 jobs in connection with the tax. Companies have also reported their own layoffs and reductions in research budgets.

"This tax is an anchor on American economic growth," said AdvaMed President Stephen J. Ubl in a statement Tuesday. "Our industry has long been an engine of growth, driving medical innovation and producing well-paying manufacturing and advanced science and technical jobs. That’s why there is broad bipartisan support to repeal this tax and we urge Congress to act quickly."