Tags: Barack Obama | Exclusive Interviews | Healthcare Reform | IRS Scandal | MidPoint | medical | devices

Rep. Erik Paulsen: Obama Medical Device Tax Will Be Repealed

By    |   Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 06:25 PM

Critics of a tax on medical devices are so numerous in Congress that President Barack Obama should expect to see a repeal bill on his desk fairly soon targeting this unloved feature of the Affordable Care Act, a lawmaker who has medical manufacturers in his Minnesota district tells Newsmax TV.

Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican from suburban Minneapolis, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Wednesday that the medical device tax's days are numbered thanks to a coalition of detractors from across the political spectrum on Capitol Hill.

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A device tax repeal bill that has broad House support, including 45 Democratic co-sponsors, will finally get a vote in the Senate once Republicans control the chamber starting in January, said Paulsen.

"If you allowed a vote in the Senate [today], it would pass right now," said Paulsen. "But [outgoing Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid has never allowed that vote to take place. The new Congress and the new congressional leadership will allow that vote to take place, and we're going to put it on the president's desk."

The tax — a 2.3 percent tack-on to sales of equipment such as pacemakers and even dentures — went into effect in 2013 and is intended to raise billions to help pay for the president's prized healthcare overhaul.

Critics, including Paulsen, a member of the House Medical Technology Caucus, say the levy is a burden on a thriving sector of the U.S. economy — high-tech medical manufacturing — that needs to be left alone.

"It doesn't sound like a lot," Paulsen said of the fee, but by taxing manufacturers for every item they sell, he said, the ACA has prompted these typically small, high-tech firms of 50 employees or less to cut back on hiring, research, and product development.

"We knew that the device tax was going to be a job killer," said Paulsen. "We've lost about 33,000 jobs across the country already . . . and these are better-than-average jobs that pay pretty well, actually."

He also compared the device tax to other features of the health insurance law — such as, "If you like your plan, you can keep it" — that turned out not quite as advertised.

"The good news is we've got everyone from [Texas Republican Sen.] Ted Cruz on the right to [Massachusetts Democratic Sen.] Elizabeth Warren on the left [agreeing] that this was a wrongheaded position," said Paulsen.

Paulsen said that Congress — taking its cues from midterm voters who punished Democrats this month — will have a lot of work to do "to address all the deficiencies of the new healthcare law."

The ACA passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote in either chamber of Congress.

"So, we'll have pieces of it that we're going to continue to dismantle and take apart, knowing full well that we need to lower costs for people, that we need to improve care," said Paulsen.

A member of the powerful, tax law-writing House Ways and Means committee, Paulsen also discussed the recent recovery of missing emails from an IRS official, Lois Lerner, at the center of questions about the agency's targeting of politically conservative groups.

"We'll be able to get a lot more information now that those emails are available," he said.

Paulsen also called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to scrutinize the IRS, its practices, and its ties to the White House, "because we're going to continue to have stonewalling from the administration until we get real answers."

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Critics of a tax on medical devices are so numerous in Congress that President Barack Obama should expect to see a repeal bill on his desk fairly soon targeting this unloved feature of the Affordable Care Act, a lawmaker who has . . .
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2014-25-26
Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 06:25 PM
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