Senate Dems ask for delay of medical device tax

More than a dozen Senate Democrats have signed on to a letter asking Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to support a delay of the medical device tax, which is slated to take effect Jan. 1. It's not the call for repeal industry would like to hear, but considering how few blue friends devicemakers seem to have, the news is likely to be well-received.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) are the top signatories, joined by 16 other Democratic senators and senators-elect in a letter asking Reid and the party leadership to take up the cause of delay.

The IRS released its final regulations for the 2.3% charge on Dec. 5, just 27 days before it's slated to kick in, and the senators say that's hardly enough time for the industry to fall in line.

"With this year quickly drawing to a close, the medical device industry has received little guidance about how to comply with the tax--causing significant uncertainty and confusion for businesses," the senators wrote. "As we work together to develop a long-term solution to help move our economy forward, reduce our debt and reform our tax code, we urge you to support delaying enactment of this provision in a fiscally responsible manner."

Devicemakers and trade groups have been clamoring for a repeal of the tax for as long as it has been on the books, but after passing the Republican-led House, a bill to nix the charge has sat idle in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it has not been brought up for a vote. With that in mind, support from Senate Democrats, even if for a delay and not an outright repeal, is likely a positive sign for the industry.

AdvaMed's J.C. Scott told The Hill that more voices calling for delay is a heartening development, but the group has just one goal in mind. "Delay of the tax is an important step, but Congress must fully address the device tax as it works to develop a long-term solution to help our economy more forward, reduce our debt and reform our tax code," Scott said.

- read the senators' letter
- check out The Hill's story

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