Congressman starts 2015 with push to repeal medical device tax

Repealing the medical device tax will be the first effort put forth by Rep. Erik Paulsen as the 114th Congress gets under way.

The Republican from Minnesota has introduced the Protect Medical Innovation Act to broad bipartisan support. The legislation looks to repeal the 2.3 percent excise tax included in the Affordable Care Act. The bill currently has 254 cosponsors, 27 of whom are Democrats.

"The medical device tax continues to stifle innovation, cost American jobs, and drive up healthcare costs despite bipartisan opposition in both houses of Congress," Paulsen said in a announcement on his website. "The American people are looking for their elected officials in Washington to find common ground and repealing the medical device tax is a great place to start."

However, while Paulsen says the tax is driving up costs, the financial impact on the medical device industry should be "relatively small," according to a report published in November by Congressional Research Service.

"No more than 1,200 employees" of medical device manufacturers should lose their jobs, according to the report. In addition, industry output and employment likely will fall by no more than two-tenths of a percent, the report says.

This is also not the first time Paulsen has introduced legislation of this nature. In the last Congress, his legislation on the device tax passed the House twice, but was never voted on in the Senate.

Another, similar bill will most likely follow Paulsen's legislation. Last year Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Medical Electronic Data Technology Enhancement for Consumers' Health (MEDTECH) Act, aiming to exempt low-risk medical software and mobile medical apps from regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While that bill was introduced with only a month remaining in the 113th Congress, Hatch said it will be reintroduced this year, FierceHealthIT previously reported. He added that his bill will work in conjunction with Paulsen's repeal of the medical device tax, which he is strongly opposed to.

"There's so many stupid aspects of that," Hatch has said of the device tax, "it would take all day to explain them to you."

To learn more:
- check out Paulsen's bill
- read the announcement