Brown targets device tax in bill

On Thursday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced S. 262, a bill aimed at repealing the $2 billion per year tax on the medical device industry. The 2.3 percent excise tax starts in 2013 and is designed to help pay for the healthcare overhaul, but the medical device industry has been resistant to it, The Hill notes.

While introducing the bill, Brown expressed concern that the tax would reduce domestic investment in R&D and ultimately patient access to life-saving technologies.

"Medical technology companies employ more than 375,000 workers in the United States," Brown said. "In Massachusetts alone, we have more than 225 medical device firms, which employ more than 20,000 workers, and contribute nearly $1 billion in payroll. Medical devices are one of our State's top exports, contributing $6 billion to our State's economy." He added he doesn't want actions in Washington to harm these numbers, undermining the chances of Massachusetts to compete.

As MassDevice reports, Boston Scientific CEO Ray Elliott was quick to praise Brown's actions, adding that the company "supports repeal of the $20 billion tax on medical devices which threatens jobs in Massachusetts and patient access to life-saving technology," according to a prepared statement.

"Repealing this onerous tax would help the US maintain global leadership in the development, manufacturing and export of medical technology," Elliott wrote.

In January, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced S. 17, the "Medical Device Access and Innovation Protection Act." The purpose of that bill is "[t]o repeal the job-killing tax on medical devices to ensure continued access to life-saving medical devices for patients and maintain the standing of United States as the world leader in medical device innovation."

Some Democrats also are supportive of knocking out the tax. Two House Democrats, Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden, are co-sponsoring Rep. Jim Gerlach's (R-PA) HR 488, "Save Our Medical Devices Act of 2011," which is designed to repeal the tax. Altmire is also a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), The Hill notes. So far, that bill has 41 co-sponsors as of Feb. 4.

- read Sen. Brown's statement (.pdf) introducing the bill
- get the Boston Business Journal story
- see the MassDevice report
- check out The Hill's coverage