Device tax repeal push may rise again as compromise point for budget bill

Like a phoenix, a proposed repeal of the 2.3% medical device tax has risen once again. This time, the idea is being bandied about as a compromise measure that could help get the government running again.

The Republican-led U.S. House already failed in its attempt in the days before the Oct. 1 shutdown to include a repeal of the 2.3% medical device tax in a bill to keep the government running. President Barack Obama and the Democratic-led Senate didn't want to link changes to the Affordable Care Act to a short-term government-spending bill, and the measure failed.

Now CNN reports that Sen. Dick Durban (D-IL), the Senate's number two Democrat, has confirmed that the tax could be on the table again. But there's one condition. Durbin told CNN that House Republicans must pass a short-term spending bill that isn't linked to the Affordable Care Act in any way. If they do, he said, the Senate would meet with House Republicans to work on the tax issue. At this point, the success of such a meeting could also hinge on finding a way to replace the $30 billion in funding the tax is designed to generate for the health reform law over 10 years.

A repeal of the device tax would be a major victory for AdvaMed and the other trade groups and device companies that have lobbied for the change for more than a year. AdvaMed CEO Steve Ubl said at the AdvaMed 2013 conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23 that his organization would "look at every opportunity" to enact a change in the tax. This is a fast-moving story, so expect more updates as the crisis continues.

- here's CNN's story

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