• Senate To Take Aim At Medical Device Tax
  • August 28, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • There is bipartisan support for repeal of the medical device tax. Although the House passed its repeal bill in June, hurdles still remain to get the bill across the finish line in the Senate.

    When Congress returns in September it appears that the Senate will finally take a stab at it, but it is unclear exactly when a bill will move, with aides saying only that it will happen “before the end of the year.”

    It is not just timing that is unclear. The Senate repeal bill is not identical to the House measure, but rather a tax-repeal bill introduced in January by Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is the lead Democrat working on moving the measure forward.

    A McConnell spokesman said that a vote on the medical device tax repeal has not been scheduled yet, "but it's something we'd like to get done, of course."

    Additional hurdles remain for the bill. First, Democrats opposing repeal would need to muster only 41 votes to successfully block it via filibuster. Further, the White House has said President Barack Obama would likely veto the measure should it arrive on his desk, a move that would require 67 Senate votes to override.

    Additionally, there are struggles within each caucus. Republicans have been hesitant to make small-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act, given the party platform of repealing it entirely.

    Democrats also have several reasons to oppose a repeal of the tax. First, it would be conceding ground on the law they have avidly defended for the past five years, although many Democrats have openly said the law isn't perfect. Repealing the medical device tax could also open the door for other industries to lobby to change the parts of the law that they don't like.

    Finally, there's the issue of repealing a tax without adding to the deficit. Finding such a "pay-for" is tricky for both caucuses. Democrats fear that the GOP could look to cut spending from other parts of the law or from social programming, given the party's antipathy for increased taxes.

    Republicans, meanwhile, fear that finding a funding mechanism for the law could create the appearance of funding the law as a whole, a position of considerable political peril.