Paulsen: Congress to take up medical device tax repeal

WASHINGTON – House Republicans plan to take up Rep. Erik Paulsen’s bill to repeal a tax on medical devices that is used to pay for some of the 2010 health care overhaul. The measure is likely to get a vote this spring, said Paulsen.

Paulsen told MPR News on Tuesday night that GOP leaders decided to proceed with the bill, introduced in January 2011, after their annual strategy session held last weekend in Baltimore.

The bill, entitled the Protect Medical Innovation Act, has 226 cosponsors from both parties in the House, more than enough for passage.

With Democrats in control of the Senate, the measure is unlikely to pass there, but setting up a legislative conflict on the issue might be a strong election year issue for the GOP, which has sought to portray the Obama Administration and Democrats as hostile to business.

Paulsen has become one of the medical device industry’s strongest proponents in Congress. The industry, which has strong roots in Minnesota, also receives the backing of many other members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, including DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

She and Paulsen have collaborated on legislation cutting the time it takes for the Food and Drug Administration to approve new devices.

  • Patients and taxpayers are supporters of innovation along with politicians. However, innovation does leave some devastating failure in its’ wake and current federal public policy leaves both patients and taxpayers vulnerable and entitles the lobbying medical device industry to full profit(i.e. 37,000 DePuy J&J metal-on-metal hips). Nuanced policy would rebalance so that the medical device industry would be more stable and trusted and patients would be protected. Joint replacements are the #1 expenditure of Medicare and the Institute of Medicine report 7/29/11 highlighted that the FDA 510(k) “predicate” clearance is legislatively flawed. The US must have a device registry and FDA the power to recall failed devices. The industry will fight it, but it needs to be done.