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Med device industry quiet on how to pay for repealing tax

Repealing the medical device tax is at the top of the agenda for the Advanced Medical Technology Association this year, but its top officials remain mum about how to make up for the millions of lost dollars under ObamaCare.

Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the group, also called AdvaMed, said repealing the 2.3 percent tax on medical device companies is a key part of its effort to reform the U.S tax system across the board.

"The stars I think are lining up for a real opportunity to move the ball forward," Ubl told reporters Tuesday as he unveiled the association's 2015 agenda.

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AdvaMed, one of the largest groups representing medical device companies, has been one of the loudest voices calling for repeal of the tax. But its leaders are still without a way to resolve one of the biggest remaining issues: how to fill the $29 billion budget gap through 2022.

Ubl said the legislation may not require an offset and if it does, it's up to Congress to figure out how to do it. 

"When Congress decides to make a policy change, sometimes it pays for it, sometimes it doesn't," he said, citing policies like tax extenders and the physician formula fix.

"They're the ones who are ideally positioned to survey the potential offsets," he said of the lawmakers working on this issue.

No lawmaker or industry group has yet proposed a replacement for the lost revenue, which the nonpartisan Congressional Research Services warned “may be difficult to find.”

Ubl, as well as chairman Vince Forlenza, believe their long-awaited victory is within reach for the first time under the GOP-controlled Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate Democratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (R-Ky.), who has called the tax “the single worst piece of legislation passed in the last half century.”

While the revenue from the tax is a fraction of the $151 billion expected from the individual mandate, proponents of the policy argue that it is a crucial way to offset the costs of expanding healthcare coverage to millions of people.

The policy, which levies a 2.3 percent sales tax on medical supplies produced by about 7,000 companies nationwide, would mark one of the biggest successes for the GOP against ObamaCare after more than 50 votes to repeal the law.