GOP warns health law could tax smartphones, apps as medical devices

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee want to know if smartphones, tablets and apps will be regulated as medical devices under President Obama's healthcare law.

Six GOP lawmakers, including Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Friday asking for clarification. 


The group said the Affordable Care Act's excise tax on medical devices, if applied to mobile apps and smartphones, could "affect the growth and innovation in this market."

"Has the FDA discussed, prepared, or analyzed the effect of the medical device tax on smartphones (as well as tablets or similar devices) or the creators or distributors of applications for those products?" the lawmakers asked.

According to the letter, the FDA's draft approach to regulating mobile medical devices would only apply to technologies that were explicitly marketed for medical uses. This means that an iPhone or Blackberry used to run medical apps would not itself be considered a medical device.

But, lawmakers wrote, "we are concerned about the potential of 'actual use' becoming a factor in the future."

The letter asked for reply by March 15.