With election long passed, device tax lobbyists ply Dems

Last year, when Republicans had a puncher's chance to capture the Senate and presidency, the medical device industry lined candidates' pockets in hopes of securing a repeal of the 2.3% excise tax. That, of course, didn't work out, and now lobbyists are reaching across the aisle to curry bipartisan support for the effort.

As The New York Times reports, lobbyists believe they can rally members of both parties around a repeal of the medical device tax, which is designed to raise about $29 billion over 10 years. FierceMedicalDevices took a look at how the industry spent its lobbying cash in the last cycle, and while the numbers skewed heavily Republican, the Times notes that the industry has since started opening up its wallet to Democrat leaders.

Dem Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, from the devicemaker-laden state of Minnesota, have benefited from the industry's largess, and the two join Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania in the effort to stir up a call for tax repeal in the Senate. A bill to strike the charge from the Affordable Care Act has twice passed the House, but the efforts got nowhere in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber.

So far, the partisan shift in lobbying has moved the needle a bit. Last year, when Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced the Senate's repeal bill, he was joined solely by members of his own party, the Times points out. This year, he has four Democrat co-sponsors.

But even if all those lobbying costs add up to a repeal bill clearing both chambers, the effort seems unlikely to get much farther. President Barack Obama has said he has no interest in delaying or repealing the tax, arguing that the device industry's contribution to ACA will be made good by the more than 30 million previously uninsured patients who will need orthopedic replacements, pacemakers and the like.

- read the Times story

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