Device tax repeal fight fails again as government funding bill avoids the issue

Congress quickly passed a bill late on Oct. 16 that raised the country's debt limit and funds the government through mid-January. But a repeal of the 2.3% device tax is nowhere to be found, representing another defeat for opponents of the industry assessment.

AdvaMed, a major industry trade group, said it was disappointed that the tax wasn't repealed. AdvaMed President and CEO Stephen Ubl said in a statement that the organization would continue to fight to eliminate the tax.

"We are heartened by the strong and growing bipartisan support for repeal of the medical device tax in both the House and Senate, and we appreciate the commitment from many members of Congress to keep this issue front and center during the budget debate moving forward," Ubl said. "Repealing this tax is critical to job creation and increased investments in R&D that will drive the next wave of medical progress. We are strongly committed to full repeal of this tax, and we will continue work to that end."

Republicans and an increasing number of Democrats have expressed support in recent months for repealing the tax, which is designed to raise $30 billion over 10 years to help fund the Affordable Care Act. But Democrats strongly resisted issuing a repeal in exchange for restarting the government, and they ultimately won out.

Medical device companies and some business leaders have been lobbying hard for repeal of the tax, which kicked in on Jan. 1, 2013, arguing that it will kill both jobs and innovation.

As The Washington Post and other media outlets reported, the bill lifts the debt limit for several weeks and enables government funding through Jan. 15. In addition, the bill sets up a conference committee designed to deal with larger budget issues. Republicans did win one small change to the Affordable Care Act: According to the story, the compromise funding/debt limit bill mandates new measures to make sure that folks who receive subsidies to buy health insurance are eligible to do so.

- here's the Washington Post story
- here's the New York Times' take (sub. req.)
- check out AdvaMed's statement

Editor's note: This story is updated to reflect the fact that Congress passed a bill to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.

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