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April 24, 2013
Tom Grasson
Associate Publisher
Editorial Director

Some say it is a step in the right direction. Others are of the opinion it is nothing more than a political trick, a scheme concocted by the devious senator from Nevada.

No matter how it is viewed, the overwhelming vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate to repeal the medical device tax was the right thing to do. While the vote to repeal the tax was an amendment to the Senate’s fiscal year 2014 budget – which is a well-known partisan plan for more spending coupled with more taxes with no chance of getting through the House – it does reflect a new mindset on the adverse consequences to the economy and the healthcare industry in particular.

This tax is viewed as one of the most troublesome elements of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Taxing medical device manufacturers 2.3% of gross sales to help offset some of the costs associated with ObamaCare is a huge disincentive. Not only does it depress job creation in the medical device industry, it hinders innovation that can drive costs down, and it could take new medical device technology into foreign markets.

Unfortunately, it appears the vote to repeal the tax was purely symbolic and it is far from a done deal. Since the Senate measure was attached to a non-binding resolution, no bill has really been passed that can be sent to the House for approval.

Here is where critics, feeling this is a mere political maneuver, see the hands of the devious senator from Nevada at work. In a recent article by Herman Cain published in Newsmax, Cain states that this could be one of the senator’s “infamous tricks.” Accordingly, a vote is held that allows you to say you took action on repeal. When people begin to ask why the tax isn’t actually repealed, some doubletalk about parliamentary procedure is given; then it is on to the next question.

Cain believes that in cases like this, the House will pass a measure, only to have the media call it political grandstanding because they say the Senate will never approve it.

However, with 33 Democrats joining almost all the Senate Republicans to vote in favor of repealing this tax, the media would have a difficult time explaining how grandstanding plays a part in the measure.

Cain asserts the only way to crumble this political maneuver is for the Senate to pass a binding repeal bill, or for the House to send its bill to the Senate and demand that the Senate majority leader allow a vote on it. If the vote is not allowed to take place, we will all know that the American people are being tricked.

Maybe Cain hit a grand slam with his take on the repealing of the medical device tax. Then again, perhaps he hit a foul ball. Only time will tell.

What we do know is that 79 senators went on record favoring the repeal. However, they have not yet passed a bill they can send to the House for approval. We also know that for the first time Democrats and Republicans share some common ground in recognizing how detrimental this medical device tax is.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think the actions of our lawmakers will be a trick or a treat for the medical device industry as well as the American people?

 


tgrasson@gie.net

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