'Fiscal cliff' overshadows push for device tax repeal

On the positive side, more than 50 global medical device industry CEOs and executives canvassed Capitol Hill on Thursday, conducting more than 60 meetings with legislators in a massive lobbying effort against the impending 2.3% medical device industry tax. But, as the National Journal reports, legislators already appear distracted by the looming "fiscal cliff," which makes the long-shot industry lobbying effort all the more likely to fail, at least this year.

Trade groups including AdvaMed, the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association--along with executives from device companies including C.R. Bard ($BCR), Cook Medical, Hologic ($HOLX) and Toshiba--fanned out to make their case to legislators. They have united in opposing the tax as a killer of both jobs and innovation.

Designed as part of the Affordable Care Act, the tax is slated to kick in Jan. 1 unless opponents can successfully push for a repeal. But those efforts are now competing with legislators' focus on the "fiscal cliff," which would enact hundreds of billions of automatic spending cuts and tax increases on Jan. 1 unless Congress and President Obama can agree on another course of action before then.

According to the National Journal, it is becoming clear that the medical device tax issue may take a back seat to the larger issue at hand. Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, is quoted as saying that Congress is now focused on other fiscal concerns.

"The issues that have to be done just have to be done," he told the National Journal.

It's not as if the industry is naïve about this. AdvaMed told FierceMedicalDevices after the election that it was hopeful but realistic about repealing the device tax, and noted the fight might carry on into 2013. With that in mind, tax opponents have also focused on perhaps tweaking the tax rather than appealing it outright. But the industry trade groups and their member executives pledge to continue the fight into the new year if they have to. In the immediate term, however, Congress may not yet be paying very close attention.

- read the National Journal story

Special Report: 5 Things You Need To Know About the Medical Device Tax