By a vote of 79 to 20 on an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution, the U.S. Senate signaled overwhelming bipartisan support for repealing the medical device excise tax imposed by the Affordable Care Act. The medical device tax, which applies to sales rather than profits, imposes a 2.3% tax on manufacturers, importers and producers of certain medical devices made after December 31, 2012. The tax is projected to raise $30 billion over the next decade to help cover costs associated with the Affordable Care Act. A final rule on the excise tax was issued in December 2012.
Because the tax repeal amendment – which was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – is attached to a nonbinding resolution, the vote is more symbolic than legally effective. The success of the amendment does, however, signal growing bipartisan opposition to the controversial tax. This is significant in light of the pending standalone bills that have been introduced in both the House and Senate to repeal the medical device tax. In February, Sen. Hatch introduced the Medical Device Access and Innovation Protection Act (S. 232), which would fully repeal the medical device tax. This week, similar legislation (H.R. 1295) was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY). Yesterday’s Senate vote increases the likelihood that one of these bills will eventually pass.