Casey’s medical device tax ‘compromise’


    A Pennsylvania Democrat wants Obamacare to stand, but also wants a key tax within it repealed. A vote Monday found U.S. Sen. Bob Casey choosing one priority over the other.

    Over the weekend, the House had sent a bill over to the Senate that would avert a government shutdown, but postpone the Affordable Care Act by one year.

    At a press conference Monday morning at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, Casey said Republicans in Congress need to keep the issues separate.

    “That way the government can function,” Casey said. “We can have a functioning government Tuesday morning and then we can continue to have debates about any issue that they want to talk about.”

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    After traveling to Washington, Casey voted with the majority of his Senate colleagues to kill the House bill. But in doing so, he also shot down something he actually supports: repealing a 2.3 percent tax on medical device makers.

    “I’ve already compromised here,” Casey said. 

    Casey has worked to repeal the tax for months. He’s one of several key Democrats pulling in large amounts of financial support from the biotech industry.

    “The medical device tax is incredibly damaging to Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Chris Molineaux, president and CEO of PA Bio, a statewide trade association representing pharma, biotech and medical device makers. 

    He says the tax, which has been in effect since early this year, is especially onerous — since it’s levied on sales, not profits.

    Molineaux says his group will continue to push hard to have the tax killed.

    “We would like to see the medical device tax repealed, no matter what form that it comes in, no matter what piece of legislation it rides on,” he said. “It’s disappointing that the Senate did not vote to approve the legislation that included the device tax repeal.”

    In Pennsylvania alone, 1,100 medical device makers are subject to the tax, according to Molineaux.

    The 2.3 percent levy is projected to raise about $30 billion over 10 years. The rationale behind it is that the health law will increase business for medical device makers and they should chip in too.

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